Lagos — An explosion on board a ship servicing MRS Oil and Gas tank farm at the Tin-Can Island Port in Lagos sparked a major fire yesterday, disrupting operations at the depot.
Witnesses said many people were injured by the fire that resulted from the explosion, which happened at about 11am.
There were fears yesterday that some people might have been killed in the incident, but the Nigerian Ports Authority said no deaths were confirmed.
The explosion happened as an oil vessel belonging to MRS discharged petroleum products at one of the company's tank farms, witnesses said.
A staff of MRS staff who spoke on the condition of anonymity said: "Some of the workers who sustained injuries jumped into the lagoon but could not swim to safety. Some cried for help before their bodies were washed away by the current."
An official of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr Ibrahim Farinloye, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that four persons sustained injuries as a result of the incident, adding that the generator house of the company was also affected.
Newsmen were barred from entering the premises, but witnesses said the fire lasted about an hour.
Mr Marco Storori, the Executive Director, Shipping, Trading and Operations of MRS, said that three buildings were affected by the explosion.
A spokesperson for the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Mrs Osibodu Bevlema, told NAN the fire was brought under control with the assistance of fire service personnel from other tank farm operators like Oando and Folayiwo, within the Ibru jetty.
"I cannot tell you specifically the extent of damage or what led to the fire outbreak.... I want to assure you that the incident has been put under control and it will not affect the supply of products in any form," Bevlema said.
The management of MRS said a statement would be issued on the incident after investigation.
The Nigerian Ports Authority said its managing director Malam Habib Abdullahi ordered investigation into the incident. A statement by NPA spokesman Michael Ajayi said Abdullahi gave the instruction during his visit to the scene.
"As at the time of the visit to the scene by the managing director, reports revealed that no life was lost," the statement said.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Port Police Command, Mr. Goddy Ihendi, told Daily Trust by telephone that he was yet to be briefed about the incident.
Hours before the MRS tank farm incident, a massive fire tore through Ebute Metta, a waterfront slum in Lagos on Tuesday night, burning down dozens of shack workshops and homes.
When firefighters didn't turn up, locals tried in vain to stop the blaze with buckets of water, the Associated Press news agency reported yesterday.
The fire hit along the dirty shoreline of the Lagos Lagoon, an area full of sawmills that process lumber floated into the city from hundreds of kilometers away. By Tuesday afternoon, a thick plume of smoke rose from the mills over the city's long Third Mainland Bridge, which links the metropolis to its islands.
Hours later after the sunset set, the fire still raged in the neighborhood. It was unclear if anyone was injured in the inferno.