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Monday, 28 January, 2002, 17:03 GMT
Eyewitness: Canal deaths
Bodies pulled out of the canal
Relatives came to look for their loved ones
French news agency photographer Pius Otumi Ekpe describes the scene in Lagos where hundreds of bodies have been recovered from a canal after people fled in panic from explosions at Ikeja military base.

I tell you the scene is horrible. The bodies are still there. It is an eyesore.

Nobody can stand it.

In fact when I got there, when I was taking pictures, I really felt bad. I almost broke down in tears.

But then it is something one is used to, so at least I was able to do it and then get out of the place.


The bodies were still arriving after the time I was leaving. There were quite a lot of dead people there. I recorded over 100.

Relatives of a drowned child
Many of the victims were children
There were some adults there but the majority were children. Most of them were children and in their teens.

They saw the flames. Of course they didn't know where it was coming from and it was really bad so they had to take to their heels.

In the process they got run into the canal.

The authorities were there when I was leaving but they hadn't moved any bodies.

One of the officials told me that the people there wanted to make sure the story was properly covered by journalists before the bodies were removed to the mortuary.

I physically counted about five corpses already brought out of the Oke Afa, Isolo Canal.
Sobowale, Nigeria

They wanted the world to know what had happened.

A lot of people there have lost their loved ones and were rushing there to see if they could identify any of them.

And those ones that were able to identify their children in fact they broke down there in tears and I made a lot of shots of people shedding tears.

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Pius Otumi Ekpe
"The scene is horrible"
See also:

28 Jan 02 | Africa
Eyewitness: Lagos blast
28 Jan 02 | Africa
In pictures: Lagos explosions
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