Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has expressed sadness at the pipeline explosion in Abule Ado area of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, in which 17 persons died.
Abule-Ado is near the Trade Fair Complex on the Lagos-Badagry Expressway that leads to the Seme border, a major land border between Nigeria and Benin Republic.
The dead include a family of four, two Reverend Sisters teaching at Bethlehem Girls College and five students of the College.
Also, about 60 students of the College injured by the explosion were evacuated to the nearby Naval Hospital, Lagos.
A Catholic priest also died while making attempts to get out about 20 students trapped in their dormitory at Bethlehem Girls High School.
The Bethlehem Secondary School, a boarding school owned by the Catholic Church at Abule-Ado, was destroyed by the explosion.
President Buhari, on his verified Twitter page, sympathized with the families of the deceased and those who lost their properties.
Mr. Nosa Okunbor, the Spokesperson of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, said in a statement that “the causes are yet to be determined, while security agents are investigating the cause of the explosion and recovery, rescue activities were carried out by the Ministry of Special Duties, LASEMA, men of the Lagos State Fire Service crew, Federal Fire Service Department, Safety Commission, LABSCA and other first responders.”
But the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said that the explosion was from gas cylinders. The force of the explosion, including vibration, which happened on Sunday morning, was felt several kilometres away including parts of the neighbouring Ogun State.
But eye witnesses said that the explosion was caused by a truck driver tipping off sand close to a woman cooking near a pipeline and this ignited and resulted in the ravaging fire which was only controlled overnight.
The Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Western Naval Command of the Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral Oladele Daji, who was on ground to access the situation, said that “it is unfortunate that once again we have to see this kind of devastation when we are at peace time and not a time of war.
He added: “The relevant agencies of government are carrying out the assessment to determine what happened. With what we have seen on the ground and the evidence gathered so far, there is complexity of some people dealing with cooking gas; that is judging from the several cylinders scattered all over the incident scene. Some witness believed that there was gas leakage that had saturated the air, just waiting for something to ignite it and that a truck provided it.”
The explosion blew off rooftops of buildings, shattered glass windows and injured worshippers already in church for the Sunday morning services.
Among the over 70 buildings destroyed or damaged by the explosion include the headquarters of the Lagos Province 3 of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) located on 24 Road, Festac Town, a parish of the First Baptist Church near the RCCG parish also lost a part of its roof, the roof of a parish of the Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel) located at 7th Avenue, Festac Town, was also blown off while it equally shattered the roof of the Ark Parish of the RCCG at 1st Avenue, many kilometres away from the explosion scene.
Many other buildings very far from the explosion scene at Abule-Ado, Festac Extension in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area, were also brought down while many others shook during the explosion that threw thousands of residents in panic and confusion.
The Odic Plaza, a motor parts mall and warehouse, Bush Bar Hotel, Green Horse Plaza which houses tyres, Arch Angel Catholic Church, Chino Plaza with many goods in it, and a mechanic village, all located inside the Trade Fair Complex, Ojo, were all hit by the explosion.