Nigerian troops operating in the oil-rich Niger Delta region on Monday said efforts are underway to rescue a crude oil-laden barge that ran aground in southern Bayelsa Sate.
Local residents of Odioama Community reported that the barge sank in the river on Friday and that the crew was evacuated by security forces.
Spokesperson for the Joint Military Task Force (JTF), Lt.-Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, told reporters in Yenagoa that the maritime component of JTF was assisting in the rescue operation.
Nwachukwu said the area had been secured to ensure that oil thieves did not tamper with the cargo while rescue efforts were going on.
He said the barge was running aground some nine nautical miles on the shallow waters of St. Nicholas River when it began to sink.
The military spokesperson said officers had commenced moves to evacuate the crude cargo to enable the barge to float.
He said unidentified persons tried to rescue the barge with a tug boat before the JTF collaborated with oil firms operating in the area to trans-load the crude.