Kazeem Ugbodaga, with Agency Report
Many people have been feared dead and over 70 houses destroyed in Sunday’s pipeline explosion which rocked Abule Ado area of Ojo, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.
A massive explosion was heard on Sunday morning, accompanied with thick smokes and balls of fire. The explosion shook several houses miles away from the scene.
The explosion reverberated and shook houses several miles away. Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA’s spokesman, Nosa Okunbor said the explosion might be from the pipeline.
“We were debating in my house where the sound came from and then, my sister called some friends in Satellite who confirmed it happened in their area and Abule Ado,” said Precious, who lived closed to the area.
An army personnel who craved anonymity said the explosion occurred behind Oando Gas Station at Abule Ado.
Emergency management officials were seen evacuating the remains of several dead victims.
The headquarters of the Lagos Province 3 of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) located on 24 Road, Festac Town, Lagos was burnt along with over 70 buildings.
The explosion which occurred more than a kilometre away from the church premises, shattered its glass windows, injuring worshippers.
A parish of the First Baptist Church near the RCCG parish also lost a part of its roof to the explosion.
The roof of a parish of the Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel) located at 7th Avenue, Festac Town, was also blown off by the explosion which equally shattered the roof of the Ark Parish of the RCCG at 1st Avenue, many kilometers away from the explosion scene.
The Bethel Secondary School, a boarding school owned by the Catholic Church in Abule Ado, was brought down by the explosion, with many of its students injured and some feared dead.
Many other buildings very far from the explosion scene in Abule Ado, Festac Extension in Amuwo Odofin LGA, 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.
The cause of the explosion has yet to be ascertained according to the National Emergency Management Agency, which is yet to confirm the death toll.
A witness, Mrs Patience Erebogaya, told NAN that she was preparing to go to work in a nearby hotel when the Bethel School was scattered by the explosion and injured her.
The victim said that mass celebration was going on in the catholic school when the explosion reduced the school to rubbles, trapping many students.
The state Commandant of the Security and Civil Defence Corps, Mr F. A. Adeyinka, said hat security personnel and other emergency responders were working hard to bring the situation under control.
The Chairman of Amuwo Odofin LGA, Mr Valetine Buriamoh, who was at the scene, ruled out pipeline vandalism as the cause of the explosion.
He said that the magnitude of the damage was beyond pipeline vandalism.
He appealed to the residents to give access to security operatives and emergency responders to do their jobs.
NAN reports that the fire which started at 9.00p.m was still on as at 3.00.p.m.
According to Mr Ibrahim Farinloye, the acting Coordinator, Lagos Territorial Office, (NEMA), the explosion was not connected to pipeline vandalism contrary to speculations made on social media.
He said; “From the information given by officials of the Lagos State Fire Service who are currently on the ground, the implosion is not connected to pipeline but might have occurred in a factory located in the Abule Ado area.
“Emergency responders are on ground while others are still on their way to the scene. The situation is under control and we hope to get more information soon to ascertain its cause,” he said.
Farinloye said the NNPC had shut down the pipeline passing through the area as a precautionary measure after the oil company was notified of the incident.
He also confirmed that several buildings were affected by the explosion.