No fewer than 17 persons have been confirmed dead and 25 others injured after a gas explosion rocked the Abule-Ado area, near the International Trade Fair Complex, Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State on Sunday.
More than 50 buildings in the area were impacted by the explosion, as hundreds of residents were rendered homeless.
Several vehicles parked in the area were also destroyed by the explosion.
Boarding pupils of the Bethlehem Girls College were trapped in the wreckage of their hostel, as residents and sympathisers pulled them out of the rubble.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the Principal of the college, Rev. Sr. Henritta Alokha, lost her life while attempting to rescue the pupils.
The explosion was said to have occurred around 9am after a truck hit some gas cylinders in a gas processing plant.
The gas plant was located near the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s System 2B pipeline’s right of way.
A witness, who identified himself simply as Chibuzor, said his neighbour, who was just delivered of a baby, was trapped after her residence caved in.
He said, “We were in the church when it happened. At first, we thought it was a tanker explosion and we ran out of the church to see what had happened. But on getting out, we saw fire raging.
“My brother’s house was affected and a woman, who just gave birth, was in the house. We cannot hear her voice and she is not picking her calls.
“Immediately the explosion happened, the chapel of the school, where the children were gathered for morning mass, collapsed. Some were trapped underneath the rubble, while some have been rescued and rushed to hospital.”
A Twitter user, Alexehi Imobhio, said he was also in church when the explosion occurred.
“It felt like it exploded on the church premises. All the windows were shattered and worshippers ran for their lives. It was my first day in church after over four years,” he said.
The Lagos State Emergency Management Agency said 17 people were confirmed dead, adding that 25 were injured.
The Public Affairs Officer of the agency, Nosa Okunbor, said there was a series of explosions, which started around 9.05am.
He stated, “The incident, which recorded 17 dead and 25 injured, destroyed property estimated to worth hundreds of millions of naira, with unquantifiable devastation to other assets, as well as the environment.
“Aside these, people in their hundreds have suddenly become displaced in an incident in which two LASEMA response teams, as well as the Lagos State Government Fire Service, the Rapid Response Squad of the Nigeria Police and other first responders were in full attendance.”
While quoting the Director-General of LASEMA, Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, he said the agency could not tell the primary cause of the incident.
“While security agents are investigating the cause of the explosion, recovery and rescue activities were carried out by the Ministry of Special Duties, LASEMA, men of the Lagos State Fire Service, the Federal Fire Service Department, the Lagos State Safety Commission, LASBCA and other first responders.
“Seventeen bodies have been recovered, while 25 injured persons are being treated on site,” he added.
The National Emergency Management Agency said it recovered 15 corpses, including a family of four.
The spokesperson for the South-West, Ibrahim Farinloye, said a couple and their two sons were among those who died in the explosion.