Thursday, May 15, 2008

Nigeria update on oil pipeline explosion near commercial capital Lagos

Nigeria pipeline blast kills at least 100

By George Esiri, Reuters
IJEGUN, Nigeria

(Reuters) - At least 100 people were killed and scores injured when fuel from a pipeline ruptured by an earthmover caught fire and exploded in a Nigerian village near the biggest city of Lagos, the Red Cross said on Thursday.

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 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 told Reuters.

School bags and sandals littered the compound of one school whose pupils had fled the explosion and blaze.

More than 20 burned out vehicles caught in the fire were visible in the street, as firefighters and volunteers tried to douse the flames with sand and water.

"I was returning home when I suddenly saw sparks of fire from where the grader (earthmover) was working. It was like hell was raining down on us, then everybody started running in different directions," local resident John Egbowon said.

Fuel pipelines criss-cross Africa's top oil-producing nation and explosions and fires with high fatalities are frequent.

Previous 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.

Nigeria is the world's number eight oil exporter, but most Nigerians live on less than $2 (1 pound) per day and many are prepared to take huge risks to obtain free fuel.

At least 45 people were burnt to death last December in another village on the outskirts of Lagos when fuel they were stealing from a buried pipeline went up in flames.

One year earlier, 250 people were killed in another pipeline fire in a different area of Lagos.

In such situations, a small number of organised thieves usually drilled a hole in a pipeline, but as word spreads others come and try to steal the fuel and a fire is often ignited.

(For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: (Additional reporting by Tume Ahemba; Editing by Pascal Fletcher)

Lagos pipeline blast 'kills 100'

At least 100 people have been killed in an oil pipeline explosion in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos, the local Red Cross says.

The explosion tore through the Ijegun suburb, engulfing schools and homes after a bulldozer burst the pipeline, reports Reuters news agency.

Red Cross officials said many injured people had been taken to hospital and they were still trying to rescue more.

Among the dead is a two year old baby, emergency relief workers said.

"The fire is still going on, a lot of people are dead. Houses are burned. People are running for their lives," the AFP news agency quoted a Red Cross volunteer as saying.


December 2007: At least 40 people killed in Lagos
December 2006: At least 250 killed in Lagos
May 2006: At least 150 killed in Lagos
Dec 2004: At least 20 killed in Lagos
Sept 2004: At least 60 killed in Lagos
June 2003: At least 105 killed in Abia State
Jul 2000: At least 300 killed in Warri
Mar 2000: At least 50 killed in Abia State
Oct 1998: At least 1,000 killed in Jesse

At least 36 people have been taken to a nearby military hospital, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) spokesman Abdulsalam Mohammed said.

Nigeria is one of the world's major oil producers and pipelines cut through many residential areas, both in cities such as Lagos and oil-producing areas.

Several of these have exploded, often when local people cut holes in them to steal oil.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) says there at least 400 acts of vandalism on its pipelines each year, reports the AP news agency.

At least 40 people were killed in a pipeline explosion in December in Lagos last year.

In 2006, some 400 people were killed in two blasts in Lagos.

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