Ijegun Pipeline Explosion
Residents, above, view the charred wreckage of their homes and possessions yesterday as rescuers worked to reunite families and register missing victims from a Nigeria pipeline fire that killed 100 people.
Red Cross officials said that firefighters had extinguished the blaze from a fuel pipeline that ran through a crowded suburb of the city of Lagos.
A leak set fire to more than a dozen homes and sent students stampeding from their threatened school building. Witnesses said that some children were among the dead.
Workers were helping families and friends to find each other after being separated in the chaos, though some were having to identify bodies, Red Cross officials said.
More than 100 people were feared dead Thursday after a construction vehicle struck an oil pipeline on the outskirts of Lagos, Nigeria's biggest city, setting off an oil-fed inferno that spread to surrounding homes and a school.
"The fire was very high," said Johnson Fabunmi, a doctor who lives in the area. "Everyone was running for their life."
There were vastly differing accounts of the toll. Nigerian Red Cross officials said at least 100 people died, but a representative of the Nigerian Emergency Management Agency said only 10 died, including a 2-year-old, and that 36 were injured.
Pipeline fires are common in Nigeria. More than 400 people died in two similar pipeline explosions in Lagos in 2006 and at least 40 died in December.
Thousands gathered on Friday around charred destruction from a deadly pipeline explosion as Nigerian firefighters doused flames triggered by the blast that had burnt for more than a day.
Twisted metal and melted buckets littered the site after the Thursday incident, which resulted in a huge fireball that engulfed nearby schools, causing teachers to leave bags and mobile phones behind as they fled.
The charred remains of a baby lay nearby, surrounded by a ring of carefully laid-out stones.
"The fire has now been completely put out," National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) official Abdulsalam Mohammed told AFP.
Local officials put the death toll at 15, disputing the Nigerian Red Cross's claim that some 100 people were killed.