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.
Firefighters struggle to douse a pipeline explosion (illustration)
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.Nigeria is among the world’s largest oil producers. Nigerian oil companies say that the majority of oil spills are caused by sabotage, theft and illegal refining.
Spills have left the Niger Delta highly polluted. In years past, it has endured the equivalent of the Exxon Valdez spill every year for more than 50 years, by some estimates, with the crude spewing from rusted and aging pipes, unchecked by what analysts say is ineffectual or collusive regulation, and enabled by poor maintenance and sabotage.
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 farming and fishing communities said they had suffered years of damage because of repeated large spills from oil pipelines in their home areas. The Court of Appeal in London ruled last year that British courts do not have jurisdiction over the claims.