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The local police are now tracking down two suspects who caused the explosion of an illegal oil refinery in southeast Nigeria that killed 100 people on Friday.

The local police said the explosion at the facility in Ohaji-Egbema’s local government area in Imo state was triggered by a fire at two fuel storage areas where more than 100 people worked.

In a statement, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement, called the explosion a “catastrophe and a national disaster.”

In view of the explosion, Buhari ordered the nation’s security forces “to intensify the clampdown” on such facilities being operated illegally in many parts of southern Nigeria.

Sources said that despite Nigeria being Africa’s largest producer of crude oil, its oil production capacity had been limited by a chronic challenge of oil storage and the operation of illegal refineries.

Moreover, the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NRC) said in March that Nigeria lost at least $3 billion worth of crude oil to theft between January 2021 and February 2022, with shady business operators often avoiding regulators by setting up refineries in remote areas such as the one that exploded in Imo.

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