Tragedy struck in a camp near the creeks of Ebelebiri and Otuogwe when it exploded on December 5, 2017 and went up in flames.

The explosion claimed 20 lives at the illegal refinery camp at Kolo Creek in the Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.

Several other persons were said to have suffered varying degrees of injury during the inferno.

The Joint Task Force, Operation Delta Safe, and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, security outfits directly in charge of checking illegal bunkering, pipeline vandalism and illegal refineries, were said to have had knowledge of the camp but allegedly failed to halt its operation.

It was learnt that the fire spread quickly, consuming the unknown 20 persons in the camp. Three persons were said to have escaped the inferno by a whisker.

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Investigation, however, revealed that the state police command had earlier appealed to security agencies in charge of oil theft, especially the NSCDC and the JTF, to clamp down on the site and arrest the operators.

A police source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Commissioner of Police uncovered the existence of the camp through intelligence gathering and warned of dire consequences.

The source said it was disheartening to hear that in spite of the warning, the explosion still occurred and claimed lives.

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