• Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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BusinessDay

Updated: Explosion renders hundreds homeless in Lagos

Explosion: FG to work with Lagos on resettlement of victims, relief materials

Hundreds of residents in Abule Ado area of Lagos were on Sunday morning rendered homeless following an explosion that rocked the area, resulting in uncontrollable fire.

The impact of the explosion was felt several kilometres away, as several buildings including those in Festac Town, were destroyed and their roofs blown off.

Churches in Festac Town, including Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel) located at 7th Avenue, as well as Ark Parish of the RCCG, located on 1st Avenue were affected.

It could not be ascertained what led to the explosion that occurred at about 8:50am.

However, chairman of Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area, Valentine Buriamoh, ruled out pipeline vandalism.

There were, however, speculations that it might have been caused by ruptured gas pipeline. Figure of casualties involved in the explosion could not also be ascertained as at the time of going to press.

But, Femi Oke-Osayintolu, managing director, Lagos State Emergency Management Authority (LASEMA), said the actual figure of persons affected would be released after investigation into the occurrence had been concluded.

“It is too early to ascertain the casualty figure, until there is empirical data. We have rescued some people but I can’t give you figure now. All the stakeholders are still here and working together. As you can see the situation has been brought under control,” Oke-Osayintolu said.

However, some of the eyewitnesses said over 40 persons were rescued alive and taken to the hospital, with several dead as at 11am.

Particularly hit by the explosion was Bethlehem Girls College, said to be owned by the Catholic Church.
Two reverend fathers were said to have been rescued alive and rushed to the hospital by emergency responders, which include the Lagos State and federal fire services, the Red Cross, police, navy and army personnel who were still on ground at the time of this report.

Some students lodged in the school hostel were said to have also been trapped when the building collapsed under the impact of the explosion while some escaped unhurt.

A victim, identified as Japheth, told BusinessDay that he only moved into the area in November 2019, but had now been rendered homeless.

Solomon Ogbonna, president of Ohaneze, Lagos, who spoke with BusinessDay, said there was the need to conduct deeper investigation into the explosion, which he said could be a bomb, saying the government must immediately do all that was necessary to avert a future occurrence of any similar incident.

“Iam calling on Lagos State government to investigate this and not dismiss it as mere gas explosion. The scale of damage looks like a bomb,” Ogbonna said.

Lagos State government has urged the residents to keep calm over the explosion as the situation was being handled.

Commissioner for information and strategy, Gbenga Omotosho, in his twitter handle on Sunday morning, also confirmed that the LASEMA had fully mobilised to the scene, and was battling the fire.

“Pipeline explosion at Abule-Ado. LASEMA is fighting the fire. Please, be calm,” Omotosho said.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Sunday said the fire was as a result of gas explosion that occurred after a truck hit some gas cylinders stacked in a gas processing plant located near the corporation’s system 2B Pipeline Right of Way.

In a press release signed by NNPC group general manager, group public affairs division, Kennie Obateru, the corporation explained that preliminary findings indicated that the impact of the explosion was so huge that it led to the collapse of nearby houses and damage to NNPC pipeline on which efforts were being made to curtail the resultant fire.

Mele Kyari, group managing director of NNPC, and other top management of the corporation departed to Lagos this evening (Sunday evening) for an on-the-spot assessment at the scene of the incident.

Obateru stated that following the report of the explosion, the corporation quickly halted ongoing pumping operations on the Atlas Cove-Mosimi pipeline that was active at the time.

The release explained that the NNPC had already mobilised its in-house combined team consisting of Health Safety Environment experts, Medical and Security personnel from its nearby Satellite Depot in Lagos, even as Lagos State Fire Service was also rallied to extinguish the fire.

The release said more fire fighting personnel and equipment were mobilised from the NNPC Mosimi Area Office to provide extra fillip to the ongoing operation.

While assuring members of the public and residents of the affected communities to remain calm, the NNPC’s spokesman assured that the temporary shutdown of the petroleum products pipeline would not affect the normal supply of products to Lagos and its environs.

He said the fire, currently burring at controlled condition, was being fought headlong, saying a detail assessment of the incident was underway to establish the extent of damage to the pipeline.

Kyari commiserated with the victims of the incident, praying that God provide them succour at this hour.

 

Joshua Bassey & Olusola Bello