There was confusion in Delta State on Thursday after an explosion affected the Nigeria Gas Company pipeline at the Ugbokodo community, near the Warri Refinery in Okpe Local Government Area of the state.
It was gathered that some residents, including children, who fled into the bush following the raging fire were still missing as at about 4:30pm.
Speaking to Punch, protesting members of the community, led by the Unuevworo (traditional) of Ugbokodo community, Tobore Ajisha, alleged that the explosion could have been prevented if the leaking pipeline had been fixed when the community leaders reported the matter to NGC officials in writing.
Ajisha disclosed that the community had also placed a call to the management of Nigeria Gas Processing and Transporting Company when they noticed the explosion in the affected pipeline, but the NGPTC reportedly refused to act quickly until the fire gathered momentum.
He said, “After the explosion, many of our residents who fled into the bush for safety have not been found.
“Some of them also sustained injuries from stampede that happened when everyone was scampering for safety. They have been taken for treatment.
“Our farms and fish boats were affected in the incident. We are appealing to the federal and state governments to wade into the issue.
“Before today’s (Thursday) explosion, we have written to NGC office here to intervene, but they didn’t listen to us. Now, see what their negligence has caused us.”
It took the combined efforts of the men of the fire services from NGC, Warri Refinery and other agencies to put off the fire about at about 8am.
The authorities, so far, have not said that any life was lost in the incident.
The Commander of the Joint Task Force, Operation Delta Safe, Rear Admiral Suleiman Apochi, confirmed the incident.
Apochi said he had yet to get a full briefing about the development.