By Charles Nwabardi
At least 100 persons believed to be all youths are reported dead after an explosion gutted a chain of illegal refineries in the Abaezi Forest in the Ohaji-Egbema council area of Imo State.
The incident which occurred on Friday night also saw no fewer than six vehicles razed in the unfortunate incident.
The incident which threw villagers and residents of the community into mourning was confirmed by the State Commissioner for Petroleum Resources, Goodluck Opiah, on Saturday.
It was gathered that majority of the victims were burnt beyond recognition.
Opiah, who is an indigene of Egbema, disclosed that Imo Government has declared the operator of the illegal refinery, Okenze Onyenwoke, wanted.
He advised the suspect whom he said was on the run to turn himself in at the nearest police station.
The commissioner said, “This is a sad development. The Imo State Government has declared wanted, Okenze Onyenwoke, who owns this illegal refinery. I advise him to hand himself over to the police or any security agency.
“This is wickedness. This is economic sabotage. It is also destroying our youths. I, therefore, call on the youths to go away from this kind of illegal business. There are so many legitimate businesses one could do to make genuine money.”
An indigene of the community who identified himself simply as Ejike said, “Nobody survived the incident. Those who were rescued yesterday have all died this morning. The casualty figure is over 100. This is sad. People are rushing to look for their relations but the unfortunate thing is that the victims were burnt beyond recognition.”