- West Africa
Mass burial for victims of Lagos oil pipeline fire
The Lagos State government has started on-the-scene mass burial of victims of Friday’s fuel pipeline explosion, which claimed some 200 lives at Inegbe beach in Ilado, about 45-km south of Nigeria’s commercial city of Lagos, a government official said.
Health Commissioner, Tolani Kasali, one of several Lagos government officials who visited the scene of the accident, also said the government would hire divers to help recover more bodies from the waters around the epicentre of the blast.
Already retrieved bodies, many burnt beyond recognition, are being deposited near the explosion scene.
Lagos Deputy State governor, Femi Pedro, has also visited the scene.
The police said in a statement preliminary findings indicated the fire was caused by the vandalisation of the pipeline ferrying fuel from the Atlas Cove Jetty off the Lagos coast to depots around the country’s southwest.
The pipeline belongs to the State-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The statement by police spokesman Haz Iwendi, said "over 70 jerry cans, long hoses, pliers, knot removers, chisels, all implements of vandalisation were recovered from the scene."
Police operatives also found two burnt outboard engines by the seaside, an indication that some vandals might have come in by boats and canoes.
Some residents believe the explosion, which occurred at dawn as hundreds oe people scooped fuel into jerry cans from the vandalised pipeline, was triggered an outboard engine malfunction.
A Red Cross spokesman, Biodun Orebiyi, said the fire at the scene of the accident had been put off.
Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Emmanuel Adebayo, said the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) was already investigating the tragedy and searching for likely surviving collaborators.
No survivor of the explosion has been found, in the latest of a series of oil pipeline fires that have claimed thousands of lives in Africa’s largest oil-producing nation.
Adebayo said the Marine Police had been instructed to seal off the explosion scene to prevent people from gaining access to the area.
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is visiting Indonesia for a meeting of eight developing countries (D8), has ordered a full-scale investigation of the explosion and condoled with the families of the bereaved.