Posted by News Express | 1 January 1970 | 3,864 times
Hundreds of people were feared to have been killed after one of the pipelines belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) at the Takwa Bay Beach in Lagos, exploded Wednesday midnight.
In yet another bad news, this time from the northern part of the country, over 40 persons perished when a passenger boat sank in Taraba State, North-East Nigeria.
In the Lagos incident in the country’s South-West, eye witnesses claimed that the spillage occurred and hundreds of people had dashed to the scene of the spillage, armed with buckets and bowls. They were said to have been scooping fuel when the explosion occurred.
Majority of the people who were scooping at the time of the explosion were killed.
Nobody knew for a fact what led and cause the explosion, but it is believed to be the handiwork of pipeline vandals who drilled holes on exposed pipeline in order to scoop fuel.
Not too far from the sight of explosion, in a pit allegedly dug by suspected vandals, a pool of petrol was seen. Some of the villagers explained that it was from the pool that the scooping took place.
One of the villagers, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “The vandals come to our areas in canoes loaded with several hundreds of 50 liter Jerry cans. They filled the jerry cans with fuel, tied them to several yards of ropes with which they dragged the already filled Jerry cans across the murky waters to a place considered safe before they would eventually load them on to their boats.
“They do these to avoid the prying eyes of security operatives from identifying what they are carrying.”
Rescue workers were yet to recover any body at the scene of the explosion, but the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Public Relations Officer (PRO) in the South-West Zone, Ibrahim Farinloye who confirmed the incident, said relations of victims may have carted away bodies of the deceased persons for fear that government agencies might use it to track down the whereabouts of vandals.
Farinloye said suspected vandals perforated the pipelines at Takwa Bay area, adding that the pipeline takes petroleum products from Atlas Cove at Apapa, to Ejigbo and Mosemi depots both in Lagos and Ogun States.
He explained that the activities of the vandals around the area where the pipelines were perforated, led to an explosion at about midnight.
It was gathered that supply valves had since been shutdown to stop the fire, but efforts were still ongoing to track down either victims or fleeing vandals by security agencies.
Farinloye added: “Safety officials from NNPC Atlas Cove base worked from the time the incident was reported around midnight to put out the fire. It was not until around 10am that the fire was completely put out. Cooling process has commenced while pumping of prices will start soon.
In the Taraba incident, a boat conveying people from the troubled Dampa Village in Ibi Local Council Area of Taraba capsized, killing all the occupants.
The victims were said to be fleeing the area following gunmen’s attack on the village from the neighboring Plateau State.
The suspected gunmen, numbering over 100, were said to have invaded Dampa Village yesterday morning, killing several persons and inflicting injuries on others.
An eyewitness, who spoke with The Guardian, said majority of the victims were women, children and the elderly who could not swim, adding that a family of six, including father, mother and four children, were victims of the boat mishap.
The Council Chairman, Adamu Ishaka, said: “When the attackers stormed the village, people started running away. They shot at several bullets at the boat conveying the fleeing villagers.
“We have drafted Marine Police to the area to confirm what actually happened.”
Also, over 30 persons were reportedly killed last Sunday in a renewed crisis that erupted between Christians and Muslims in Wukari Council of the state.
The Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Joseph Kwaji, who confirmed the incident to The Guardian, said the Command had drafted heavily armed policemen to the area and that necessary efforts were being made to track down the culprits.
Following the insecurity of lives and property in the state, several persons have continued to move to the neighboring Benue State.
•Pieced together from stories in The Eagle Online and The Guardian.
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