Nigeria: Death Toll Rises As Survivors Salvage Properties From Lagos Fire

At least 17 people died and scores of others suffered varying degrees of injuries in an explosion in Lagos on March 15, 2020.

At least 17 people have been confirmed dead and 25 others rescued from the explosion and fire incident in the Abule Ado area of Lagos , the state's emergency management agency has said.

Aside these, people in their hundreds have suddenly become displaced persons, Nosa Okunbor, the spokesperson of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency.

"The causes are yet to be determined, while security agents are investigating the cause of the explosion and recovery, rescue activities were carried out by the Ministry of Special Duties, LASEMA, men of the Lagos State Fire Service crew, Federal Fire Service Department, Safety Commission, LABSCA and other first responders," read the statement issued Sunday night.

As efforts to quench the fire continued Sunday evening, scores of residents were seen salvaging the remnant of their properties lying under the rubbles of collapsed buildings.

While many were able to recover some valuables, some were only left with damaged boxes containing what was left of their properties.

Ibrahim Farinloye, the acting coordinator, National Emergency Management Agency, Lagos territorial office, earlier said that the initial explosion destroyed more than 50 buildings.

A PREMIUM TIMES reporter at the scene saw many storey-buildings collapse to ground zero, while others partially collapsed, leaving many properties destroyed.

Up till 7:15 p.m., residents were removing their mattresses, chairs, cookers, refrigerators and other items they could recover.

The Explosion

Abule Ado community in Amuwo Odofin suffered a pipeline explosion around 9 a.m. on Sunday.

The explosion which left many Lagos residents in panic affected buildings in areas outside Abule Ado, such as Festac Town, Ijegun and others.

Many plausible reasons have been given for the explosion and the resultant fire.

While some residents claimed it could have been caused by a bomb, two government agencies, NEMA and the Lagos Fire Service earlier said it was an "implosion" and not explosion.

"The implosion is not connected to pipeline but might have occurred in a factory located in the Abule Ado area," the agencies said.

The Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) also could not state the actual cause of the explosion.

However, the Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari, on Sunday evening said the fire incident happened when a truck hit some gas cylinders stacked in a gas processing plant located near an NNPC pipeline.

"NNPC pipeline right of way (ROW) encroachment by gas handling vendors and construction of houses enabled the explosion and aggravated the impact. Working with LASG and security agencies to clear the ROW," Mr Kyari said in a tweet.

The NNPC later released a statement, saying the incident occurred after a truck hit some gas cylinders stacked in a gas processing plant located near the corporation's System 2B Pipeline Right of Way.

As soon as the incident occurred, the corporation said it quickly halted ongoing pumping operations on the Atlas Cove-Mosimi pipeline which was active at the time.

It said its actions would not affect fuel supply to any part of Nigeria.

The statement added that more fire firefighting personnel and equipment were mobilised from the NNPC Mosimi Area Office to provide extra fillip to the ongoing operation.

Casualties

Not less than 17 people have died from the explosion, while some were rescued alive and others trapped in the collapsed buildings.

Mr Farinloye, the NEMA coordinator, said 15 bodies were recovered, including a family of 4 who were heading to church before they were caught in the explosion.

The Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), however, said the death toll rose to 17 as at 11 p.m. Sunday.

Bethlehem Girls College, a Catholic school close to the scene of the explosion, also suffered a huge loss as the principal of the school and a number of students died, while many were rescued and taken for treatment.

When PREMIUM TIMES visited one of the hospitals that received patients from the explosion, not less than seven people were seen at the emergency ward receiving treatment.

"He is my in-law, his injuries are not too much, that is why I can talk to you. But some dead people were brought here," a relative of one of the affected persons said.

PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the corpses of the school principal, the school engineer and one yet-to-be-identified person were deposited at the Nigerian Naval Reference Hospital.

"They also brought the body of a kid, but we don't receive children here, others were taken to hospitals in Festac and Satellite Town," a hospital attendant told PREMIUM TIMES.

As at the time of this report, on Sunday night, efforts were still ongoing to quench the fire.

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