- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 26, 2006

12:12 p.m.

LAGOS, Nigeria — A ruptured gasoline pipeline burst into flames today as scavengers collected the fuel in Nigeria’s largest city, killing at least 200 persons. The death toll was expected to rise as rescue workers tried to document more charred corpses.

Scores of bodies could be seen jumbled and fused together in the raging flames at the blast site. Intense heat kept rescue workers back as smoke billowed over the heavily populated Abule Egba neighborhood in Lagos.

Witnesses said thieves had broken into the pipeline after midnight and hundreds of men, women and children had been collecting leaking fuel in plastic buckets, cans and bags for hours before the explosion. It was not clear what ignited the gasoline.

Ige Oladimeji, a senior official for the Nigerian Red Cross, said his workers had documented “over 200 and still counting.”

The blast shook the Abule Egba neighborhood after dawn, Nigerian Red Cross spokesman Umar Mairiga said. He said 16 bodies had been taken to the morgue, but raging fires were hindering further recovery. Many people were injured, he said.

Nigerians often tap into pipelines carrying refined fuel, using buckets or plastic bags to scoop up the liquid. Pooling fuel sometimes ignites, immolating people nearby.

In May, more than 150 people died in a similar explosion in Lagos.

Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer, but corruption, poor management and limited refining capacity often leave the country short of fuel for vehicles and stoves. Shortages in recent days have prompted hours-long lines at Lagos filling stations.

The pipeline is owned by Nigeria’s state-owned petroleum company and was transporting refined fuel for domestic consumption. The blast was not expected to affect production in Africa’s largest oil exporter.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide