Forty-three pipeline fire victims buried in Lagos


Abuja : The death toll in a petroleum pipeline blast in Lagos, south-west Nigeria, rose to 43 on Wednesday as the corpses, which were burnt beyond recognition, were buried in a mass grave.

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Scores of Nigerians scooping up leaking fuel burned to death on Tuesday when the vandalized pipeline they were stealing from burst into flames, police said Wednesday. The dead were men, women and children of various ages.

Charred buckets, kegs and containers littered the scene of the blast in the commercial capital Lagos. The latest inferno came about a year after some 260 people were killed in a similar pipeline blast in a Lagos suburb.

Pipeline vandals had earlier cut open a section of the pipeline ferrying refined petroleum products from the Atlas Cove Jetty, Lagos, to depots in the south-west and stole large quantities of petroleum products.

Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, said at the burial site that the victims were buried to prevent epidemics in the affected area, adding that the state’s health officials had started fumigation of the affected coastline.

Appealing to the federal government and the state-run Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation to encase the pipelines, Idris warned Lagos residents to desist from scooping fuel from vandalized pipelines as history has shown that the effects are always catastrophic.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Information and Communication, John Odey, warned in Abuja Wednesday that government would no longer tolerate any act of vandalism against national infrastructure.

Odey said in a statement that the government was shocked and saddened by the unfortunate news of the deaths that occurred at Takwa Bay.

“The incidence is worrisome in view of the intensive efforts of the present administration to ensure safety of life and property of all Nigerians irrespective of their status in the society,” he said.

“At a time when Nigerians are savouring the peace and joy of the yuletide season, it is sad that a group of criminals could go about to engage in acts that can slow down our development,” the minister added.

“It is unfortunate that some people can still attempt to embark on criminal activities by bursting petroleum products pipeline in order to make ill-gotten money. Government is equally determined to ensure maximum protection of the lives and property of Nigerians from criminal elements,” Odey said.

The minister said the government had resolved to eradicate pipeline vandalism from Nigeria. The pipelines that criss-cross Africa’s largest oil producer are often vandalized by fuel thieves hoping to sell the fuel illegally.

Residents of remote suburbs or villages where the vandalism takes place take advantage of the leaking pipelines to get their own fuel.

Despite Nigeria’s vast oil wealth, its residents remain poor and the oil revenue doesn’t trickle down to those most in need.