AHURAKA ISAH, GEORGE OKOJIE and CHIKA IZUORA  Lagos, Jonathan Nda-Isaiah, Kauthar Anumba-Khaleel Abuja, SUNDAY ISUWA">

PMB Consoles Families As 15 Die In Lagos Explosion

President Muhammadu Buhari has commiserated with families over the loss over their loved ones and others affected by yesterday’s pipeline explosion in Abule-Ado, Amuwo Odofin local government area of Lagos State.

Officials of some rescue agencies put the death at 15 last night, but there were indications that the figure could be higher.

The president in a statement issued by his media aide, Garba Shehu, also condoled with the Lagos State government and the residents affected by the unfortunate incident, which left many dead, several others injured and destroyed property.

President Buhari said: “I have received with sadness the news of this unfortunate incident which caused the loss of life and property.

“A misfortune of whatever scale anywhere is a tragedy to the country, and while the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) makes efforts to determine the cause of the incident, I send my deepest and profound sympathies to the victims, their families, government and people of Lagos State.”

LEADERSHIP learnt that the massive explosion shook several houses and wreaked havoc in Abule -Ado area of Ojo Town.

Although corpses of four victims were bagged by the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), the spokesman of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in the South West zone, Ibrahim Farinloye, said that 15 bodies had been recovered from the disaster that exuded thick smokes and balls of fire which enveloped the atmosphere as the residents scampered to safety.

The residents said that the explosion reverberated and shook houses several miles away.

The Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA’s) spokesman, Nosa Okunbor, said that the explosion might be from an oil pipeline.

“That explosion shook my house. It woke me from sleep. It was so loud and scary. We were debating in my house where the sound came from and then, my sister called some friends in Satellite Town who confirmed it happened in their area and Abule Ado,” said Precious, who lives close to the area.

A Nigerian Army officer, who craved anonymity, alleged that the explosion occurred behind Oando Gas Station in Abule Ado.

NEMA, however, clarified that the explosion was not caused by any sort of vandalism of the NNPC oil pipeline.

Farinloye, who double as the acting coordinator, Lagos Territorial Office of  NEMA, said the explosion was not connected to pipeline vandalism contrary to speculations on social media.

He said: “From the information given by officials of the Lagos State Fire Service who are currently on the ground, the implosion is not connected to pipeline but might have occurred in a factory located in the Abule Ado area.

“Emergency responders are on ground while others are still on their way to the scene. The situation is under control and we hope to get more information soon to ascertain its cause,” he said.

Farinloye said that the NNPC had shut down the pipeline passing through the area as a precautionary measure after it was notified of the incident.

He also confirmed that several buildings were affected by the explosion.

Commenting on the development, NNPC said that the explosion which rocked Abule Ado area in the early hours of yesterday was as a result of gas explosion which occurred after a truck hit some gas cylinders stacked in a gas processing plant located near the corporation’s System 2B Pipeline right-of-way.

In a press statement signed by NNPC group general manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Dr. Kennie Obateru, the corporation explained that preliminary findings indicated that the impact of the explosion was so huge that it led to the collapse of nearby houses and damage to NNPC pipeline on which efforts were being made to curtail the ensuing fire.

The NNPC group managing director, Mallam Mele Kyari and other top management of the corporation departed to Lagos this evening for an on-the-spot assessment at the scene of the incident.

Obateru said that following the report of the explosion, the corporation quickly halted ongoing pumping operations on the Atlas Cove-Mosimi pipeline which was active at the time.

The release explained that NNPC had already mobilised its in-house combined team consisting of Health Safety Environment experts, medical and security personnel from its nearby Satellite Depot in Lagos, even as Lagos State Fire Service was also rallied to extinguish the fire.

The release said that more fire firefighting personnel and equipment were mobillised from the NNPC Mosimi area office to provide extra fillip to the ongoing operation.

While assuring members of the public and residents of the affected communities to remain calm, the NNPC’s spokesman said that the temporary shutdown of the petroleum products pipeline would not affect the normal supply of products to Lagos and its environs

Kyari commiserated with the victims of the incident, praying that God provides them succour at this trying moment.

Lawan, Gbajabiamila, Sanwo-Olu Condoles With Families, Victims

In a reaction, the Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan, commiserated with the victims and those who lost their loved ones in the incident.

Lawan in a statement issued by his special adviser, Ola Awoniyi, the Senate president sympathised with those who were injured and others who lost property to the inferno.

He also commiserated with the state government over the tragic incident and prayed to God to comfort all those who were affected.

In the same vein, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, expressed sadness over the explosion in the state.

The speaker, who sympathised with the victims, called for calm as the state government made frantic efforts to ascertain the cause of the incident.

He commended the state government as well as relevant agencies for taking action following the explosion.

In a statement by his special adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, the speaker said that everything should be done to avert the recurrence of such incident in future.

Meanwhile, the state governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has advised residents in the affected area to make safety their priority and urged them to maintain a safe distance from the scene of the explosion.

The governor directed the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) to immediately release personal safety equipment such as face and nose protection masks to be distributed to first responders, residents of the affected area and all safety workers at the ground zero.

The governor, in a statement issued by his chief press secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, said that protective equipment were sent to the affected site to prevent any form of medical hazard such as respiratory infections by the residents who may unknowingly inhale toxic substances from the explosion.

The governor noted that in a situation like this, there would be a lot of unhealthy substances, gas particulate matters that can affect people’s lungs.

Sanwo-Olu however reiterated the need for the residents to maintain a safe distance as practicable to avoid breathing in polluted air.

He commiserated with the families of victims of the tragic occurrence.

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