- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 2, 2003

LAGOS, Nigeria, Feb. 3 (UPI) — At least 30 people were killed and many others may be trapped in debris following the explosion that wrecked several residential and office buildings, local authorities said.

Lagos state Gov. Bola Tinubu, viewing the blast site Sunday, said there were 20 bodies at a morgue while the Red Cross put the victim toll at at least 30. Many other people are thought to be trapped in the wreckage. The Guardian, a newspaper in Lagos, reported at that least 60 people were injured.

Authorities said the explosion seemed to be centered in a 4-story structure that included homes and banks. That structure was demolished. They said they did not know what caused the explosion, which happened shortly after noon Sunday.

The New York Times reported that people were seen running from the scene with armloads of cash and computer equipment, leading to speculation that the explosion was part of a bank-robbery scheme. There were also signs that the blast may have been caused by a natural-gas buildup.

The Guardian said local people believed the devastation was the result of a bomb.

A witness told the newspaper he heard an explosion and, "We believed it was a bomb that was planted there, and before we knew it, the whole building collapsed on people and the adjourning buildings also followed suit."

"It is only a bomb that could explode the way it did, bringing down almost four buildings," the unidentified man said.

An occupant of the one of the wrecked buildings, who gave his name as Tajudeen, told the Guardian: "I was about entering the building when I heard a big bang blowing up to the third floor of the building. Suddenly, I saw the house crumbling like a pack of cards. I ran like I had never done before. Not quite long (after that), three other buildings also came down."

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