By Chiemelie Ezeobi
Many people are feared dead after a pipeline exploded in Ijegun, a suburb of Lagos.
The explosion which occurred at the wee hours of Thursday, was said to have been caused by vandals who had tampered with the pipelines and left it unguarded.
Already, men of the Lagos State Fire Service are at the scene battling the raging fire.
According to the Chief Executive Officer, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency(LASEMA), Dr. Femi Oke Osanyintolu, the explosion occurred when security operatives intercepted the suspected vandals who were engaged in illegal siphoning of petroleum products from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipeline in the area.
He said the suspected oil thieves had already loaded a 33,000 litre tanker and were on the verge of loading the second tanker of the same capacity when security agents showed up and in a bid to escape arrest, the suspects set a fire which was aided by the fuel that spilled in the drainage as a result of the vandalism.
The statement from LASEMA reads, “The above incident occurred this morning July 4, 2019 at 5am. On arrival of LRT to the scene of the incident, it was gathered that some vandals were engaged in bunkering activities at Fire Junction, Ijegun within the vicinity where an NNPC pipeline was buried.
“The vandals had already siphoned petrol into a 33,000litre tanker. While a second tanker of the same capacity was being loaded, security agencies suddenly intercepted the vandals.
“While trying to escape from the security agencies, some of the siphoned fuel spilled into the drainage and the vandals were alleged to have set the spilled fuel on fire in a bid to deter the security agencies from apprehending them.
“The fire then spread back to the pipeline, the point where the vandals had siphoned the fuel and exploded with escalating fire which led two fatalities and over 30 vehicles burnt.
“The actual loss will be determined upon conducting post disaster enumeration after the fire has been put out.”
Responders at the scene include the Lagos State Fire Service, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the police and the LASEMA officials.
More detail shortly…