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Panic as gas plant explosion rocks Rivers

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A gas plant located in the Rumukurusi area of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, went up in flames early on Tuesday causing panic among residents and business owners in the area.

It was gathered that the explosion occurred at about 5am when most people were still asleep.

Residents who spoke with said they woke after hearing people shouting from the location of the gas facility owned by Hydropet Oil Services Limited.

A shop owner in the area who simply gave her name as Grace said she saw a huge fire and accompanying smoke billowing into the atmosphere when she woke up around 5.20am.

She said, “So, I quickly came out to the road leading to Eneka, and it was the Hydropet gas plant on fire. The fire was huge. I was so afraid because my shop is close to that place.”

Our correspondent who visited the scene at about 9am saw men of the Federal Fire Service and Shell Petroleum Development Company trying to put out the fire.

A resident told our reporter that it was the Shell Fire Department operatives who were able to extinguish the fire which lasted for almost four hours.

“Imagine that there is no fire station all the way from Artillery to Eleme Junction. Even when the Federal Fire Service came within a short time, they ran out of water.

“Thank God for the Shell Fire Service workers who came to stop the fire because we don’t know maybe the tank would have exploded.”

Meanwhile, hundreds of residents and business owners thronged out to catch a glimpse of the fire, while some expressed worry over a possible escalation.

Scores of policemen and the fire teams cordoned off the area with red tape and prevented vehicles from further accessing the road.

When contacted, the spokesperson of the State Police Command, Grace Iringe-Koko, confirmed the incident, saying the investigation had begun.

Iringe-Koko, however, said no life was lost in the incident.

She stated, “Yes, there was a fire incident. It was due to a leakage from one of the gas cylinders.

“Later, the Shell fire service was able to put it out. But the police have commenced an investigation to ascertain what really happened.”

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