ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — At least 100 people may have died in an explosion at an illegal oil refinery in southeast Nigeria, a local oil official said Sunday as the search intensified for bodies at the site and for two people suspected of being involved in the blast.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement, called the explosion a “catastrophe and a national disaster.”
The explosion Friday night at the facility in Ohaji-Egbema local government area in Imo state was triggered by a fire at two fuel storage areas where more than 100 people worked, state officials told The Associated Press.
Dozens of workers were caught up in the explosion while many others attempted to escape the blaze by running into wooded areas.
Those who died in the disaster are estimated to be within “the range of 100,” said Goodluck Opiah, the Imo commissioner for petroleum resources. “A lot of them ran into the bush with the burns and they died there.”