More than 100 people have been roasted to death at the Abaezi Forest in Ohaji-Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State when an illegal refinery exploded on Friday.
Six vehicles were also said to have been razed during the incident.
The state Commissioner for Petroleum Resources, Goodluck Opiah, who visited the scene on Saturday, said the state government had declared the owner of the illegal refinery, Okenze Onyenwoke, wanted.
He advised the suspect, who, he said was on the run, to turn himself in at the nearest police station.
The commissioner said: “This is a sad development. The Imo State Government has declared wanted, Okenze Onyenwoke, who owns this illegal refinery. I advise him to hand himself over to the police or any security agency.
“This is wickedness. This is economic sabotage. It is also destroying our youths. I, therefore, call on the youths to go away from this kind of illegal business. There are so many legitimate businesses one could do to make genuine money.”
An indigene of the community simply identified as Ejike told the PUNCH that “Nobody survived the incident. Those who were rescued yesterday have all died this morning. The casualty figure is over 100. This is sad. People are rushing to look for their relations but the unfortunate thing is that the victims were burnt beyond recognition.”