- Title: NIGERIA: Pipeline blast kills up to 200 people
- Date: 13th May 2006
- Summary: WIDE SHOT COUNCIL WORKERS CARRY THE DEAD FROM THE WATER IN A MAKE-SHIFT STRETCHER TO THE GRAVE SITE; COUNCIL WORKERS BURY THE DEAD IN A MASS GRAVE ; PEOPLE WATCHING (5 SHOTS)
- Embargoed: 28th May 2006 13:00
- Location: Nigeria
- Country: Nigeria
- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement
- Reuters ID: LVA959H4CCZ652C3PY9WZ8VVJI5M
- Story Text: A pipeline explosion killed up to 200 people on the outskirts of Nigeria's biggest city Lagos on Friday (May 12, 2006), leaving about 100 blackened, unrecognisable corpses strewn across a beach where thieves were siphoning fuel into jerry cans for sale on the black market.
The Red Cross said vandals tapping the pipeline ignited about 500 nearby jerrycans full of fuel. Theft of fuel or crude oil from pipelines is common in Nigeria, an oil producing country where the vast majority of people live in poverty.
Only grey skulls and bones, incinerated to near powder, remained of the five people closest to the pipeline, which had been dug out of the sand and bore marks of drilling.
Other bodies, charred and bloated, floated in the waters of the creek, about a mile from Lagos city centre by boat.
The pipeline, which belongs to state company Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), runs just under the surface of Inagbe Beach, a stretch of golden sand on one of many islands that dot the Lagos lagoon. It carries petrol from a large tanker jetty to a distribution depot inland.
Local government workers wearing rubber gloves hauled bodies out of the water and used a makeshift stretcher to carry them up the beach to a shallow grave a short distance away.
About a dozen police and a few Red Cross officials were at the scene. Most of the bodies were close to the pipeline but a few were floating in the sea.
Lagos State Police Commissioner Emmanuel Adebayo said that they estimated that 150 to 200 people had died but he could only estimate the numbers as many bodies were burnt to ash.
"There was a fire outburst here engulfing the victims who have come here to vandalise the pipeline and as you can see the pipeline and these are corpses, remnants of corpses who died in this inferno. We have estimated between 150 and 200 people (died), we can't confirm exactly," Adebayo said at the scene.
Inagbe Beach is not a populated area but hundreds of mostly young men apparently came there to tap into the pipeline at the dead of night. The beach is a short distance away from the village of Ilado, where about 50 people died in a similar inferno last year.
In Jesse, in the southern state of Delta, a pipeline fire also caused by vandals killed about 250 people in 2000.
A dilapidated port city home to an estimated 13 million people, Lagos has been hit before by devastating explosions. A blast at a munitions dump in 2002 killed more than 1,000 people.
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