A gas pipeline exploded on Sunday in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos, resulting in the death of at least 17 people. A spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Ibrahim Farinloye, said more than 100 houses had caught fire and many people were wounded. Lorries, cars and motorbikes were also destroyed by the blast.
Farinloye said the explosion was triggered when a truck hit gas cylinders stacked up in a gas processing plant near a fuel pipeline in Abule-Ado area of Lagos. “We are recovering dead bodies as we speak and putting them in bags,” said local Red Cross official Adebola Kolawale. “We have a school here, and it’s a residential area. And we have a trade fair here as well.”
As a crowd looked on, rescue workers sought to remove rubble from a girls boarding school attended by more than 250 pupils. The school headmaster was killed in the explosion, as were a couple and their two sons who lived nearby. The explosion’s impact was so strong it led to “the collapse of nearby houses and damage to a pipeline”, according to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement on Sunday, described the incident as a national tragedy. He sent condolences to the families of the victims and Lagos state. The Lagos government, Monday, announced a N2 billion relief fund for the victims. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said N250million would be released immediately and he pleaded with well-meaning Nigerians and organisations to contribute to the fund. He also raised a committee, headed by his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat, to inquire into the tragedy.
We, at Peoples Daily, regretting the loss of lives in the explosion. We send our condolences to bereaving families. However, we are not surprised because petrol tanker and pipeline blasts have become all too familiar in this country. Fires and explosions often occur as people try to siphon fuel from pipelines and as a result of accidents involving fuel tankers on poorly maintained roads. In July, at least 45 people were killed and more than 100 others injured in Benue State when a crashed petrol tanker exploded as people gathered around to siphon fuel from it. The truck overturned close to shops as it was travelling through the village of Ahumbe.
We commend the prompt response of the Lagos State government to the tragedy. It acted quickly to evacuate the injured to hospitals. Search and rescue operations are proceeding apace. By yesterday, the fire had been put out. However, what we want done is to find ways to stop these avoidable tragedies or reduce their frequency which has become a national embarrassment.