By Ugochukwu Alaribe
ABA— THE death toll from last Friday Osisioma fuel pipeline explosion has risen to 200, even as protesting youths from the host communities of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, depot, yesterday, shut operation at the facility over the incident.
The youths, numbering 2,000, who barricaded the gate of the depot with a coffin containing the corpse of one of the victims, lamented that the pipeline explosion was caused by NNPC’s negligence, by pumping fuel through a leaking pipeline which had been abandoned for over three years.
Vanguard gathered that yesterday, additional 16 corpses were buried at Umuimo, while Okpokoroala village buried 10.
Some of the placards carried by the youths read: ‘The explosion was not as a result of vandalism,’ ‘NNPC should stop pumping fuel through abandoned pipelines,’ ‘Since Enugu depot is not functional, where was NNPC pumping fuel to?’ ‘What happened was planned mass killing of our people by NNPC,’ ‘Enough of these deaths caused by NNPC’s carelessness,’ ‘We have been rendered homeless by NNPC,’ among others.
A combined team of policemen and men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, struggled to prevent the youths from causing damage to the facility, even as they insisted that the Depot Manager must address them.
The situation was aggravated by the failure of the Depot Manager, Mr. Joseph Dumaka, and members of his management team to address the youths.
When Vanguard visited the intensive care unit of Abia State University Teaching Hospital, ABSUTH, Aba, over 40 victims were in critical condition, while their family members were seen praying.
Meanwhile, at press time, there were still signs of leakages on the abandoned pipeline, which could also ignite another round of fire.
In an interview with Vanguard, President Osisioma Ngwa Youth Congress, Mr. Emma Nduagu, said over 200 persons have died from the explosion.