SWITZERLAND, MARCH 16 – At least 17 people have died and more than 50 houses burnt while rescue operations are ongoing after an explosion occurred on Sunday at the Abule-Ado area of Festac town in Amuwo Odofin Local Government area of Lagos State.
Spokesman of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Ibrahim Farinloye, briefed journalists about the situation .
He said the resulting fire, from the explosion, later spread to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) oil pipeline passing through the area, although though the pipeline has been shut down as a precautionary measure.
According to him, a combined team of the Lagos State Fire Service, Federal Fire Service and the Nigerian Navy Fire Tender are battling to put out the inferno.
The explosion, which occurred at about 9.00 a.m. on Sunday caused panic among Lagos residents after it shook many houses in Ijegun, Festac Town and other communities in the Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area up to Agege, near Lagos.
Farinloye said efforts are ongoing to rescue some children that are reportedly trapped under some collapsed buildings in the affected area.
“… there are reports of children and their principal being involved, but we cannot give the figures out now because there are many factors with children involved in an accident, so we are keeping it for the safety of the children.
“We are trying to rescue a child that the owner informed me, is trapped under the rubble, an excavator has gone in to move the rubbles,” Farinloye added.
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.
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.
Both eyewitnesses and media reports revealed that many storey-buildings had collapsed to ground zero, while others partially collapsed, leaving many properties destroyed and many people trapped.
Up till 7:15 p.m., residents were removing their mattresses, chairs, cookers, refrigerators and other items they could recover.
President Muhammadu Buhari sympathised with the victims of the disaster on Sunday evening.
” I received with sadness the news of the explosion in Lagos, which caused loss of lives and property. While the NNPC makes efforts to determine the cause of the incident, I send my deepest sympathies to the victims, their families, and the Government and people of Lagos State,”the president tweeted.
Below is an aeirial footage of the disaster zone, shot by a drone: