Six persons have been confirmed dead in a petroleum pipeline fire in Umueke autonomous community in Osisioma local government area of Abia State.
They were among hundreds of people scooping oil from the damaged pipeline.
Several others were burnt, some of them badly in the accident, last Sunday.
Deputy Governor Emeka Ananaba, on an inspection of the scene on behalf of his principal, Chief Theodore Orji, expressed regret at the loss of lives.
He described the activities of pipeline vandals as very costly and a risky venture and advised the people of the state to desist from such acts to save their lives.
He said Abians should focus on legal and meaningful ventures that would guarantee them a useful future instead of vandalising pipelines.
The Commissioner for Petroleum and Solid Minerals, Don Ubani said the fire raged between 4 and 6.30 pm last Sunday.
He said those who received burns are in the hospital for treatment.
The commissioner said the damaged pipeline has been repaired three times and pledged the readiness of the state government to continue to monitor the pipeline’s right of way.