At least eight people died in an oil pipeline explosion in south-eastern Nigeria, police and a local official reported on Sunday, which does not rule out a heavier toll.

“I went to the scene as soon as I was informed of the accident,” said Gerald Oforji, a local politician. “And we’ve counted at least eight charred bodies, but I think there may be more.”

According to initial investigations, the pipeline “belongs to the Pipeline Product Marketing Company (PPMC) and was undergoing maintenance when the explosion occurred”, according to the same source.

“The accident took place on Saturday in the Kom Kom area of Oyigbo, while a team of engineers were carrying out maintenance work on the pipeline,” Nnamdi Omono, spokesman for the Rivers State Police, told AFP. “The number of victims is still unknown.”

On Sunday morning, the fire was contained, he added.

Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, depends for more than two-thirds of its public revenues on oil.

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