The death toll from the pipeline explosion that occurred in Umuaduru and Umuimo communities, Osisioma Local Government Area in the early hours on Friday has been put at 24 by the Commissioner of Police in Abia State, Mr. Anthony Ogbizi.

The Commissioner of Police gave the figure after he visited the scenes of the explosion at the two communities.

He said the explosion occurred due to spillage from a pipeline used to pump petrol from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation depot in Aba.

“According to the information from the NNPC depot manager in Aba, the spillage occurred from a pipeline that was undergoing maintenance.

“He said they were instructed to test run the pipeline to ascertain its level of functionality. When we visited the two communities, we were informed that 14 people were reported dead at Umuimo village, while 10 died at Umuduru community.

“Some of the victims who sustained various degrees of burns were said to be asleep when the incident occurred. They were said to have been taken to nearby hospitals and traditional medicine homes for treatment.’’

Ogbizi said the police and other security agencies in the state were investigating the possible cause of the explosion.

The state governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, has also visited the two communities affected by the explosion.

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Enyinnaya Appolos, the governor directed the state Commissioner for Petroleum Resources, Mr Chizurum Kanu, to immediately inaugurate a Commission of Inquiry to unravel the immediate and remote causes of the explosion.

Ikpeazu also directed the state Commissioner for Heath, Dr. John Ahukannah and Chairman of Osisioma Local Government, Ihenyinna Mgbeahuru, to visit the survivors in the various hospitals and ensure adequate provision of medical care for them and payment of their bills.

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