Nigeria: Many Feared Killed As Officials Battle Lagos Pipeline Fire

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The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Lagos State Fire Service have said that the fire incident that occurred in Lagos on Sunday morning was not as a result of pipeline explosion as earlier circulated.

No official casualty has been announced, although residents of the area said five people have been killed.

Some residents of the area also provided alternative views on the cause of the fire different from the official stance.

Shakiru Amodu, the spokesperson of LASG Fire Service, told PREMIUM TIMES that the incident was an "implosion" and not an explosion. He said combined efforts were ongoing to quell the fire.

"It has even extended to the pipeline. We are managing the situation, but it is massive here. All agencies are working harmoniously to put out the fire," Mr Amodu said.

Ibrahim Farinloye, the Acting Coordinator, Lagos Territorial Office of NEMA, also said in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the explosion was not connected to pipeline vandalism.

"From the information given by officials of the Lagos State Fire Service who are currently on the ground, the implosion is not connected to pipeline but might have occurred in a factory located in the Abule Ado area.

"Emergency responders are on ground while others are still on their way to the scene. The situation is under control and we hope to get more information soon to ascertain its cause," he said.

PREMIUM TIMES reporter at the scene of the fire incident confirmed the spread of the fire to neighbouring communities as many houses have been destroyed.

About 10 fire trucks had arrived at the scene while men from the Lagos State Fire Service, Federal Fire Service, Nigerian Navy, the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, and others were making efforts to quell the fire.

The number of casualties cannot be ascertained as at the time of this report, but no fewer than five people have died while many others are trapped in the collapsed buildings in the fire, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.

Dele Fasan, a stakeholder in Amuwo Odofin area, told PREMIUM TIMES that the true cause of the incident had not been ascertained.

"There is an opinion that there was an explosion either racketed by bomb which we are not quite sure of, it is only the bomb experts that can tell you that. Physically, when you look at the impact of the explosion, it is possible because the impact of that explosion is enormous," he said.

"This area, as we know, is a very volatile area. Based on the tunnels of petroleum products, there is a possibility for the explosion to have also been caused by pipeline vandalism," he said.

Mr Fasan said that given that the radius of the impact of the explosion got to Mile 2, there was a possibility that it could be a bomb.

He added that the agencies deployed to the scene had not been able to quell the fire.

Stephen Mgboru, a resident, said he went for exercise on Sunday morning and on returning around 9 a.m, heard a thumping sound, which shook his house and he fell on his bed.

"At first, I thought it was that thing that happened in 2002, January 30 when a bomb exploded in Ikeja. I felt Ojo barracks might blow, the ammunition they packed there Then I got information that it was this area and I came in."

Mr Mgboru said the fire incident was as a result of pipeline explosion.

"One tipper climbed the pipeline and it exploded."

"I saw many dead bodies and many children were trapped in Bethel School, a public school in the area," he said.

Mr Mgboru said the fire service and other responders arrived on time but the equipment they brought could not quench the fire.

Emmanuel Umeh, another resident, said when the firefighters arrived at the scene, the fire had not affected his house. "But they have no equipment to combat the massive fire which is now spreading rapidly.

"We told them to go down to help, they said they don't have enough equipment, that if they can bring helicopter or something to quench the fire. You see what they are doing? " Mr Umeh said, his voice shaking.

Meanwhile, the Lagos State Fire Service has assured citizens that the fire, although massive, was under control.

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