Abuja: Twenty people have been killed and as many injured in southern Nigeria when a fire broke out in an oil pipeline from which they were illegally scooping fuel, officials said on Monday.
The spokesman for the government of Abia state, Ugochukwu Emezue said the incident happened in a remote village of Umueke near the commercial capital of Aba on September 23.
"It took days before we learnt about the incident," he said, adding those who were injured were being hospitalised.
Abia is among the oil rich southern states in the Niger Delta region where criminals often tap into lines to steal fuel.
The state commissioner for petroleum and solid minerals, Don Ubani said several warnings have been issued to forestall such occurrences but have gone unheeded.
The commissioner said the area where the vandalism took place was remote and far from the heavily guarded popular Osisioma depot in the area.
He promised the state government would put additional efforts to protect the pipelines from fuel thieves.