Residents said the death toll is much higher due to the fire that followed the explosion in the Emuoha council area of the southern Rivers state, where political groups have been demanding a higher share of oil revenues for years.
The catastrophe occurred while illegal refinery operators were trying to steal crude oil, state police spokesperson Grace Iringe-Koko said in the capital.
Iringe-Koko added that authorities would work to determine the number of casualties, including the injured, whose number remains unknown.
The cause of the tragedy has not yet been determined.
Unofficial sources claim that the trigger was a spark from a bus leak while “a group of young people was trying to transfer oil from the pipeline to five trucks.”