Photograph — Vice News

At about 9am today, Sunday, March 15 2020, an explosion rocked the Abule Ado area of Festac Town, Lagos State sending shockwaves as far as 20 kilometres from the scene of the explosion. 

The shockwaves destroyed properties including buildings and cars and sent people scampering to safety. According to updates on Twitter, a popular church in the area was affected and people were promptly evacuated. Photos and videos on the social media platform show clouds of thick black smoke billowing from the scene of the incident and injured people being evacuated from affected buildings. Children were also evacuated from a boarding school affected by the explosion.  

Initial thoughts regarding the explosion were that it was likely a pipeline bunkering-gone-wrong as is almost always the case with explosions in this region. The director-general of LASEMA, Femi Osanyintolu told Channels TV that the pipeline had been vandalized earlier. However, a report by BBC Pidgin says the explosion was caused by a gas leak from a gas plant in the area.

This report was corroborated by Dr Kennie Obateru, Group General Manager, Public Affairs Division, NNPC, who said the explosion was triggered by an accident involving a truck running into a gas processing plant located close to the corporation’s pipeline in the area. In total, the explosion killed 17 people including the administrator of the affected school, injured 25 others, destroyed over 50 residencies, and damaged NNPC’s pipeline.

Emergency responders including the fire service and the red cross were on the scene conducting rescue operations alongside residents of the area until late into the night. This is a second major explosion in Lagos since the beginning of the year. The first was a pipeline explosion in Abule Egba in January.

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