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Pipeline explosion kills 100 in Nigeria

Latest update : 2008-05-16

At least 100 people are dead after an oil pipeline exploded in the outskirts of Lagos. Early reports point to a heavy equipment accident, and fires continue to burn.(Report: Y.Royer)

An oil pipeline explosion killed about 100 people on Thursday in a northern suburb of Nigeria's biggest city Lagos, the Red Cross said.
   
"About 100 people were confirmed dead in the explosion. We have also evacuated about 20 others to the Ikeja general hospital," Red Cross official Sule Mekudi told AFP from the scene.
   
"Most of the evacuees were seriously burnt," he added.
   
Abdulsalam Mohammed, a spokesman for the country's national emergency agency, said earlier that 10 people had been killed and at least 36 people rescued and taken to a nearby military hospital.
   
Lagos police spokesman Frank Mba said rescue operations were ongoing but that it was too early to provide casualty figures.
   
Witnesses said local people were trying to help the fire service extinguish the blaze, using sand and water.
   
The Red Cross official said the explosion was caused by a piece of earth-moving machinery working on a road construction site that accidentally burst the pipeline, causing an explosion and a fire.
   
The scene of the blast, which was near a primary school, was littered with shoes and bags belonging to pupils, a journalist at the scene told AFP.
   
Pipeline fires are commonplace in Nigeria, Africa's biggest producer of crude, in part because of poor pipeline maintenance but also because of thieves who vandalise pipelines to siphon off petrol and sell it on the black market.
   
Last Christmas Day around 40 people died in a fire at a pipeline in a creek on the outskirts of Lagos after it was vandalised by looters.
   
Exactly one year earlier more than 200 people died scooping fuel from a vandalised pipeline in another district of Lagos.
   
According to Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) statistics between 400 and 500 acts of vandalism occur every year on its pipelines.

Date created : 2008-05-15

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