Two people were killed and over 30 vehicles burnt on Thursday after thieves breached a fuel pipeline in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub, causing an explosion, emergency services said.
The incident, which happened in the early hours in the Ijegun area, is the latest in a long string of such accidents.
“We have recovered two burnt bodies and rescued eight others with severe burns,” Lagos State Emergency Mangement Agency (LASEMA) head Femi Osanyintolu told reporters.
He said more than 30 vehicles caught fire.
The inferno was caused by vandals who broke open a state-run pipeline in order to steal petrol, he said.
Security agents intercepted the thieves as they were transferring the petrol to their trucks, Osanyintolu said.
“In a bid to escape arrest, the vandals spilled some of the petrol into drainages and set it on fire,” he said.
“The fire then spread back to the point where the vandals had siphoned the fuel and exploded,” he said.
Osanyintolu said firefighters were battling to put out the inferno, adding that the toll might rise further.
Ibrahim Farinloye, spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), told reporters the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), which owns the pipeline, had been informed.
“Vandals are responsible for the incident and some of them are affected in the inferno,” he said.
He said the area had been cordoned off, and called on the NNPC to shut down the pipeline to cut off the fire.
Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer and exporter, runs a network of pipelines that transport crude and petrol across the vast nation.
Hundreds of lives have been lost in recent years from fuel theft that culminates in a fire or explosion.
On Monday, at least 45 people were killed and more than 100 injured in Ahumbe, in the central state of Benue, when a petrol tanker crashed and then exploded as a crowd gathered to scoop leaking fuel.
In June, at least 30 people were killed in a petrol tanker fire in southern Rivers state.
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