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BBC NEWS: Dozen killed in Lagos fuel blast

BBC NEWS: Dozen killed in Lagos fuel blast

“Nigeria is one of the world’s major oil producers but most of the population lives in poverty.”

17 Sept 04

At least 30 people have been killed in a huge explosion at a fuel pipeline on the outskirts of the Nigerian commercial capital, Lagos, police say.

Fuel caught fire as people were siphoning it from a pipeline in Ijegun, an island suburb north of Lagos.

A fire was still raging on Friday, a day after the explosion, and corpses could be seen floating on the water.

Correspondents say that explosions while people are stealing oil are fairly common in Nigeria.

‘Big industry’

The BBC’s Sola Odunfa says the whole town is deserted because residents fled in case they were arrested.

The only people at the scene are police, naval officers and officials from the state oil company.

“There are still a number of bodies stranded in the swamps,” he said.

Sources in the oil industry told our correspondent that there had been a “big industry” in Ijegun, stealing oil from pipelines which run through the town, taking fuel from a major import jetty to a distribution depot.

“They have been siphoning fuel for a long time. Unfortunately, there was a spark, or something,” our correspondent said.

“People were stealing fuel from the pipeline when it caught fire and exploded,” said police spokesman Emmanuel Ighodalo.

“Nobody was arrested because the victims were also the offenders. And you cannot arrest dead people,” he said.

Local resident Yinka Adamolekun told AFP news agency he had seen badly burnt corpses being loaded into vans and taken to a morgue.

Nigeria is one of the world’s major oil producers but most of the population lives in poverty.

In 1998, more than 1,000 people died when fuel they were stealing from a pipeline caught fire in the southern Delta region.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/3665698.stm

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