May 12, 2006

Nigeria pipeline blast kills up to 200

By Tom Ashby

INAGBE BEACH, Nigeria (Reuters) - A pipeline explosion
killed up to 200 people on the outskirts of Nigeria's biggest
city Lagos on Friday, leaving charred corpses on a sandy beach
where locals went to tap into the pipe to steal fuel.

The Red Cross said the pipeline blew up while thieves were
drilling into it, igniting about 500 nearby jerrycans full of
fuel. Theft of fuel or crude oil from pipelines is common in

"You can see the corpses. Some are burned to ash. Others
are remnants. ... We estimate 150 to 200 people died," Lagos
State Police Commissioner Emmanuel Adebayo said at the scene.

Up to 50 charred, unrecognizable corpses were huddled close
to the pipeline, which had been dug out of the sand and bore
visible marks of drilling in several places.

The pipeline, which belongs to state company Nigerian
National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), runs just under the
surface of Inagbe Beach, a stretch of golden sand on one of
many islands that dot the Lagos lagoon.

Authorities had started hauling corpses to a shallow grave
a short distance from the shore.

About a dozen police and a few Red Cross officials were at
the scene. Most of the bodies were close to the pipeline but a
few were floating in the sea.

Inagbe Beach is not a populated area but people apparently
came there to tap into the pipeline. The beach is a short
distance away from the village of Ilado, where about 50 people
died in a similar inferno last year.

A dilapidated port city home to an estimated 13 million
people, Lagos has been hit before by devastating explosions. A
blast at a munitions dump in 2002 killed more than 1,000

In Jesse, in the southern state of Delta, a pipeline fire
also caused by vandals killed about 1,000 people in 2000.

(Additional reporting by Tume Ahemba)