Abia state experienced a black day as explosion from a pipeline burnt scores of people including some unidentified soldiers.
The tragedy which struck in Aba, the commercial nerve centre of the State also occurred in the wee hours of yesterday.
Concise gathered that the explosion emanated from a pipeline belonging to Pipelines and Product Marketing Company Limited (PPMC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
There were different accounts of how the explosion occurred, but all the versions of the account from government authorities, pipeline guards, residents and some eyewitnesses had it that the explosion came from a PPMC abandoned pipeline.
The pipeline which has been left unattended to for over three years and was all of a sudden used to pump fuel without considering the dangers involved.
Reports further have it that the fire outbreak started by 1:30 am and affected two communities; Umuimo and Umuaduru all in Osisioma Local Government Area.
On the identity of the victims, it was learned that a father and son, a nursing mother who left her two months old baby at home after several warnings from her husband with her friend were burnt by the fire.
Speaking to newsmen, an eyewitness who happened to be a pipeline guard, Chucks Uzoije, an eyewitness, said the information on the leakage in the line came over three years ago but was not attended to. He said:
“The issue of the abandoned pipeline started over three years ago. We got information that there is leakage on the line. We called the authorities and they said it is in the old line which government does not use anymore because there are two lines there.
“The one Federal Government is maintaining is different from the one they pumped product into. So, they said they cannot do anything about it because government did not pay them to repair the two lines and that if government wants them to maintain it, the government should dialogue with them because they cannot get money from air to maintain it.
“Unfortunately yesterday, instead of pumping through the pipeline they use to maintain, they now pumped through the abandoned line. Everywhere there is leakage of fuel.
“Fuel was pumping without direction and only God knows where they were pumping it to. Fuel covered the entire bush and when the fire started, my whole house was burnt”