Fatal Nigerian Explosion Caused by Pipeline Theft

LAGOS, Nigeria (Reuters) – At least two people were killed after a pipeline fire erupted in the Ijegun area of Lagos on Thursday, a spokesman for the Lagos state emergency management agency said.

Security agencies said oil bunkering activities caused the fire outbreak as fuel spilled into the community's drainage system.  In Nigeria, "bunkering" generally means the theft of fuel from pipelines, ships, or other sources.

Lagos state emergency management agency official Olufemi Damilola Oke-Osanyintolu told journalists at the scene that the pipeline caught fire in the early hours of Thursday morning.

"But it is pertinent to know that we are able to rescue 12 people alive, four are now at LASUTH (Lagos State University Teaching Hospital) receiving treatment and eight are being taken to the burns unit at Gbagada," Oke-Osanyintolu said. 

Lagos State Fire Service released a video showing firefighters battling the blaze as plumes ofblack smoke billowed into the sky.

Oil spills in Nigeria, Africa's biggest crude producer, are often caused by theft and pipeline sabotage. While fuel is relatively cheap, many people live in extreme poverty, and the methods used to steal oil result in accidents that cause fires.

Earlier this week, at least 50 people were killed In Abuja, Nigeria, when fuel from a crashed truck that they were siphoning up caught fire, a spokesman for the governor in central Benue state.

"A tanker loaded with fuel fell yesterday (Monday) and people were scooping its products when it caught fire, killing over 50 persons," the spokesman said Tuesday. Others were badly injured and taken to hospital.

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