Panic in Rivers, Bayelsa as the earth trembles •‘We thought the end of the world had come’

Posted by News Express | 16 July 2016 | 2,863 times

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Some communities in River and Bayelsa within oilfields operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) were thrown into panic when they witnessed vibrations described as earth tremor. Many thought the end of the world had come and panic is spreading due to fear of a possible earthquake in the communities.

In some of the affected areas visited on Friday, such as Igbogene and Akenfa in Bayelsa, Akinima, Akie-Oniso (Oruama), One Man Country and Mbiama in Rivers, residents said they were yet to come to terms with the incident and are still in fear.

They said they noticed heavy vibrations that lasted for several minutes during that scary Sunday night, July 10, 2016.

Chief Etekpe, a house owner and retired School Principal in Igbogene, Bayelsa, said it was a frightening experience.

“We were about to go to bed when I heard a heavy vibration. I thought it was something else, so I quickly went into spiritual prayers,” the 60-year-old stated.

Victor Idieto, who also resides in the area, described it this way: “In fact, there was a kind of quake, very serious quake that lasted for over minutes.

“At first I thought it was armed robbers that were removing my roof, so I started shouting, only to realise that others had similar experience.”

At Akie-Oniso in Oruama in Ahoada West Local Government Area of Rivers, a resident, Paul Kio, said the tremor caused cracks in his building.

“This vibration was something unpredictable; look at the cracks on my wall,” Kio said.

Another resident, Paul Harrison, said it was the fourth time the incident had taken place, vowing to take his family away from the community if another occurs.

At Akinima, headquarters of the Local Government Area, a house wife, Mrs. Animason Emeka Mark, described her traumatic experience: “Everywhere was shaking. It was something else. I thought the world had come to an end.”

Officials of the environment-based Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) Friends of the Earth, who were also on an assessment tour of the affected areas on Friday, said the incident had occurred previously.

Mr. Alagoa Morris, Head of Field Operations at the NGO, said the last occurrence took place two years ago in Freetown, Ikarama 1 & 2 in Okordia clan in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa.

Although what triggered the tremor has yet to be established, some indigenes and environmentalist have linked it to intense seismic and oil exploration activities undertaken by SPDC in the area over the years.

Residents have called on government and relevant agencies to look into the incident with a view to ascertaining the real cause and preventing future occurrences to avert any disaster.

Mr Joseph Obari, an SPDC Spokesman, when contacted said that he was on vacation and hence cannot respond.

When contacted, Mr. Precious Okolobo, Media Relations Manager at SPDC, declined comments.

•Photo shows Environment Minister Amina Mohammed.

Source: News Express

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