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An explosion at an illegal oil refinery in Nigeria has killed hundreds

An explosion at an illegal oil refinery in Nigeria’s Rivers State has killed hundreds of people. An online report on Al Jazeera television quoted a local official and an environmental group as saying.

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The state’s petroleum resources commissioner, Goodluck Opiah, said on Saturday that hundreds of people had been killed in a fire at an illegal oil refinery. The bodies of these people have been burnt in the fire in such a way that they are not going to be identified.

Nigeria’s oil-rich region is rife with unemployment and poverty. There is a lucrative business selling oil refined illegally. But it often leads to fatalities. The oil is stolen from the pipelines of major oil companies and sold as fuel after being refined in illegally constructed temporary tanks.

The Youth and Environmental Advocacy Center said several cars lined up to buy illegal oil were burned at the time of the blast.

Al Jazeera correspondent Fidelis Mbah said dozens more such illegal oil businesses were scattered around southern Nigeria.

At least 25 people, including children, were killed in an explosion and fire at an illegal oil refinery in Rivers State in October last year.

Local authorities launched an operation last February to crack down on illegal sale of oil after refining it. But it did not bring much success.

Nigeria is the largest oil producer and exporter in Africa. According to the Nigerian government, many barrels of oil are stolen every day.

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