- The Washington Times - Friday, May 12, 2006

3:22 p.m.

ILADO, Nigeria (AP) — A ruptured gasoline pipeline exploded as villagers collected fuel in a coastal village in southwestern Nigeria today, killing up to 200 people and leaving charred bodies scattered around the beach.

Grim-faced rescue workers swung corpses into a mass grave as dozens of other bodies awaited collection next to the pipeline. Others dragged bodies across the white sand.

It appeared some victims whose bodies lay farther away had tried to flee the unfolding disaster only to be overtaken by flames spreading across the fuel slick.

The villagers had been collecting the gushing fuel outside the village of Ilado, about 30 miles east of the main Nigerian city of Lagos, when it ignited, police and rescue workers said.

“Between 150 and 200 people died,” Lagos Police Commissioner Emmanuel Adebayo told reporters. The blast sent huge plumes of smoke billowing into the sky but the fire was later extinguished.

Red Cross spokeswoman Okon Umoh said workers from the organization were helping survivors but none could be seen.

Lagos State Health Commissioner Tola Kasali said the bodies - which floated in nearby waters or lay on the beach - would be buried in a common grave because they would otherwise pose a health risk.

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