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Monday, 28 January, 2002, 10:15 GMT
Lagos explosions leave 100 dead
Blasts light up the Lagos sky
Thousands fled as shells exploded above their homes
At least 100 people are now known to have drowned in a canal in the Nigerian city of Lagos while fleeing a series of huge explosions at an army munitions dump.

A number of others died when the fire ripped through the dump, setting off many bombs at the barracks.


Many people have reported missing children, and there are children looking for their parents

Lagos Police Commissioner Mike Okiro
Many people, mostly children, were missing and thousands were homeless as a result of the inferno, which started on Sunday.

President Olusegun Obasanjo has visited the scene and ordered an inquiry into what caused the explosions.

The force of the blasts in the Ikeja area near the airport shook buildings and shattered windows in the city centre, 15 kilometres (nine miles) away. The fire was finally extinguished early on Monday morning.

An army spokesman told the BBC the fire started in a market next to the dump.

Thousands fled in panic from the army quarters and nearby residential areas.

Map of Nigeria
The BBC correspondent in Lagos, Dan Isaacs, said the market was gutted, a nearby church completely destroyed and a hospital damaged.

Crowds gathered around an unexploded shell wedged in a pavement, while others surveyed a school that took a direct hit from one of the dozens of blasts. The building was empty at the time.

President Obasanjo said the first priority was to account for the missing people and then to investigate what sparked the series of explosions.

"Many people have reported missing children, and there are children looking for their parents," Lagos Police Commissioner Mike Okiro told the Reuters news agency.

Earlier, state and military officials went on national television to appeal for calm, insisting the blasts were the result of an accident, and not a military coup.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Dan Isaacs
"Dozens of huge blasts rocked the city"
See also:

17 Jul 00 | Africa
New pipeline blaze in Nigeria
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