March 20, 2019

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Over 50 People Missing After Nigerian Oil Pipeline Explosion

Over 50 People Missing After Nigerian Oil Pipeline Explosion
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WARRI, Nigeria — More than 50 people were missing after a leaking oil pipeline exploded and caused a stampede in southern Nigeria, a local official said on Saturday.

Nengi James-Eriworio, a spokesman for the Nembe Chiefs Council, told The Associated Press that the blast on Friday caused a massive oil spill in the Nembe Kingdom in Bayelsa State.

There was no immediate word on injuries or other casualties beyond those missing.

The Nembe trunk line is operated by the Port Harcourt-based Aiteo Group and carries crude to the Bonny export terminal. The pipeline is jointly owned by Agip, Oando and Shell Petroleum Development Company.

Aiteo has not yet commented on the explosion. It was not immediately clear whether the pipeline had been shut down.

Video footage shows a large blaze from the ruptured pipeline at night as villagers look on.

“If they turn off the oil well from the station, the pressure inside the pipeline would reduce, causing the flame to burn out,” one person can be heard saying.

Deadly accidents caused by leaking pipelines are common. In January, an overturned oil tanker exploded in Odukpani in Cross River State while dozens of people were scooping up leaking fuel.

The police said at least 12 people were killed, but witnesses estimated the death toll at 60.

Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producers, and spills have left the Niger Delta highly polluted. Nigerian oil companies say that the majority of spills are caused by sabotage, theft and illegal refining.

In 2016, local community leaders initiated a court action in London against the energy giant Royal Dutch Shell, in a case with potentially far-reaching consequences for whether companies could be sued in Britain for pollution and damages caused by their activities in other countries.

The Court of Appeal in London ruled last year that British courts do not have jurisdiction over the claims.



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