At Least 100 Nigerians Dead In Oil Pipeline Explosion

At least 100 people were killed and scores injured when fuel from a pipeline ruptured by a bulldozer caught fire and exploded today in a village near Nigeria's biggest city of Lagos, the Red Cross said.

The fireball engulfed homes and schools at Ijegun village in the Lagos district of Alimosho, and many of the dead, who included schoolchildren, were killed in the ensuing stampede as people fled in panic from the flames.

"About 100 people have so far been confirmed dead from the fire. We have so far rescued more than 20 people with injuries and taken them to hospital for treatment," a Red Cross official at the scene said.

The disaster was the latest in a series of pipeline explosions or blazes caused by damage or theft which have killed more than 1200 people since 2000 in Nigeria, the world's eighth largest oil exporter and Africa's top producer.

The pipeline rupture at Ijegun, a village about 50 kilometres from the centre of the sprawling coastal city of Lagos, occurred during work to build a road. A bulldozer moving earth struck the pipeline buried beneath the surface.

"I was returning home when I suddenly saw sparks of fire from where the grader (earthmover) was working," local resident John Egbowon said.

The fuel leaking from the broken pipe caught fire and exploded, sending people fleeing in panic.

"It was like hell was raining down on us, then everybody started running in different directions," Mr Egbowon said.

At least 15 homes were burned. More than 20 charred vehicles caught in the fire were visible afterwards in the street, as firefighters and volunteers tried to douse the flames with sand and water after the explosion.

Witnesses said that even after the main explosion, the ground around the fire was so hot that shoes melted.

Abandoned in panic, discarded school bags and sandals littered the compound of one school whose pupils had fled. A group of women wailed in grief nearby.

A network of oil and fuel pipelines criss-cross parts of Nigeria and explosions and fires that kill many are frequent.

In the creeks of the Niger Delta, the country's main oil producing zone, the pipelines are also the target of sabotage attacks by local militants seeking greater control over oil revenues and more development for their impoverished region.

Previous accidental pipeline blasts in Nigeria have been caused by vandals who drilled holes in the feeder lines, used to distribute mainly imported fuel, in order to steal petrol for sale on the black market.

Sphere: Related Content

No comments: