Oil pipeline explodes in Nigeria; 200 feared dead

Friday, May 12, 2006

200 people feared dead in an explosion at an oil pipeline near Lagos in Nigeria. Many of the bodies had been burnt beyond recognition. Firefighters were on the scene of the explosion at Ilodi; a fishing village 25 miles east of Nigeria's main city of Lagos, and Red Cross workers were helping survivors.

"There was a big fire and quite a number of people died," Red Cross spokeswoman Okon Umoh said. Many of the bodies had fallen into the water of the coastal village. The blast took place when villagers were scooping out fuel that was gushing out from a ruptured pipe.

Nigeria is Africa's leading oil producer, the world's seventh-biggest exporter and fifth-biggest source of U.S. oil imports. But, most of the population lives in poverty. The pipelines often pass through poor communities, who break them to steal the precious oil.

Nigeria has a history of pipeline disasters. At least 1000 people died in Jesse in a pipeline blast in October 1998.