Lagos — Two persons died when a gas plant at Magodo, Ikosi-Isheri Local Council Development Area of Lagos, belonging to Second Coming Company Nigeria Limited, exploded yesterday.
The fate of some severely burnt persons was yet to be ascertained, as they were said to be unconscious at a Lagos Teaching Hospital, while those that sustained varying degrees of burns, were also being treated.
Those affected were staff of the company. But reports had it that some persons who had gone to transact business at the company were also affected.
It was gathered that three gas reservoir tanks, a 33,000-litre gas truck, the administrative block of the company, electric power generating set, gas cylinders and other equipment were destroyed in the inferno.
The cause of the explosion was attributed to gas leakage at the plant located on CMD Road.
Also, five persons died in another gas explosion in Ajara Vetho, Badagry Local Government Area of Lagos State, yesterday.
An eyewitnesses said the explosion, which disrupted commercial activities within the axis, emanated from a retail gas shop on Iluda Road, at about 8:30a.m., and was reportedly caused by excessive heat on the cylinders that were locked up in the shop.
The impact of the explosion forced the wall to collapse on those in the building, the eyewitnesses said, adding that pieces of dismembered bodies littered the scene.
The eyewitnesses further stated that two corpses were recovered from drainage, while two others were recovered in the premises.
Among those who were severely burnt in the resultant inferno were a commercial motorcyclist and his passenger.
Magodo eyewitness' account
An eyewitness of the Second Coming Company Nigeria Limited explosion, Sunday Gboyega, told Vanguard that he narrowly escaped being engulfed in the fire.
Gboyega said: "I was on my way to the gas plant to seek employment for one of my brothers, who had just graduated and waiting for his NYSC posting. The plan was for him to get himself busy instead of waiting at home doing nothing.
"I was close to the gas station when I heard an explosion. It was so deafening that vehicles stopped abruptly. It was followed by another deafening one. The next thing I saw were people running out from the company with shouts of "fire, fire."
"At that point, vehicles and people started making U-turns; I had no option but to join. There were balls of fire and thick smoke emanating from the direction of the company.
"I narrowly escaped being trapped. If I had left the house 10 minutes earlier, perhaps I would have been right inside when the fire started. I give God all the glory for his saving grace."
LASEMA lists casualties
The General Manager of LASEMA, Mr Shina Tiamiyu, revealed that the charred remains of two persons, who died in the fire, were found at the back of the company fence, while seven others, with different degrees of burns, were found in the compound and rushed to the Lagos State Emergency Centre, at the Old Toll Gate.
Tiamiyu said there would be an investigation into the incident, with a view to ascertaining what went wrong and to advise residents living close to gas filling stations to always remain vigilant.
The Lagos State Fire Service Director, Mr. Rasak Fadipe, said they got information about the explosion at about 7.15a.m., adding that they arrived at the scene at about 7.21a.m.
His words: "When we arrived, the fire had covered the whole compound, but we were able to put it out with the combined efforts of other safety respondents, including the Police, NEMA, the Red Cross, LASTMA and the Neighbourhood Safety Corps.
"One of our men got injured. All the injured were rushed to the Trauma Centre. Some with minor injuries were treated and discharged. We used about six fire trucks for the operation."
Edgal, Lagos CP, reacts
The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Edgal Imohimi, who also visited the scene, noted that the location of the gas facility was not good for the safety of residents of the neighbourhood.
He said the explosion was caused by a car exhaust, which ignited the gas pipe and spread to Magodo Road.
"I have asked them to evacuate all the tanks to avoid a second explosion," he said.