At least 25 people, including minors, were killed in an illegal refinery explosion in Nigeria.

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On Friday, an explosion and fire at an illegal oil refinery in Nigeria’s Rivers state killed at least 25 people, including some minors, according to a local leader and a resident, who spoke to Reuters on Sunday.

“The casualties involved are very high… we are counting 25 bodies,” Ifeanyi Omano, a community leader, told Reuters, adding, “We aren’t certain of their identities yet.” The dead included some minors, he added.

According to Omano and local resident Chikwem Godwin, the explosion occurred in the early hours of Friday, killing people from several communities.

 

A local police spokesman previously confirmed the incident but did not disclose the numbers of casualties.

Illegal refining is common in the oil-rich Delta region of Nigeria as impoverished locals tap pipelines to make fuel to sell for a profit. The practice, which can be as basic as boiling crude oil in drums to extract fuel, is highly dangerous.

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Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil exporter. Officials estimate it loses an average of 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil – more than 10% of its production – to those tapping or vandalising pipelines. The theft and vandalism contribute to enormous pollution in the region.

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