BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: World: Africa
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Wednesday, 30 January, 2002, 13:51 GMT
Hundreds missing after Lagos blasts
Woman breaks down as niece's coffin is buried
A mass burial of victims is planned
The Nigerian Red Cross says more than 1,000 people are still missing in Lagos - three days after explosions at a military armoury which caused more than 600 deaths.

Most of the missing are young children.

Defence Minister Theophilus Danjuma, who visited Lagos on Tuesday, said the ammunition dump would be shut and relocated.

The Nigerian Senate said its defence committee had warned last year that the armoury should be moved away from civilians.
Woman claims body for burial
Tuesday was a day of national mourning

Both houses of the Nigerian parliament have set up their own independent inquiries into the disaster, and the army has been ordered to conduct its own investigation.

The lower house has adopted a motion asking President Olusegun Obasanjo not to travel abroad "until the last explosion has been heard".

The authorities have said they are planning to hold a mass burial of the victims, but have yet to finalise the logistics.

Search for young

Red Cross spokesman Patrick Bawa told Reuters news agency that desperate efforts were taking place to try to find more than 1,100 people after the explosions. Most were children aged between four and 11 years.

"We registered a total of 4,000 people reported missing between Sunday and yesterday (Tuesday)," Mr Bawa said.

"Out of this we found 2,825 as of last night."

The Red Cross has set up two camps to register displaced people and to provide food, water, clothing and comfort.

Inappropriate site

Defence Minister Theophilus Danjuma said that armouries like the one at Ikeja would be relocated to prevent to such an incident recurring.

Speaking on a condolence visit to Lagos governor Bola Tinubu, he said the dump had been built there at a time when the military cantonment was far from the town. But the area was now heavily populated and "it has become an inappropriate location to dump so much ammunition".

Diver searching for bodies
Many of those missing are young children
Public anger turned on the military after the devastating blasts which sent shells, bombs and rockets raining down over the city.

Click here for a map of the area

The biggest loss of life occurred when hundreds of people fleeing the area ran into a canal and drowned.

No casualties were reported inside the barracks themselves.

Warning ignored

Army spokesman Felix Chukwuma told the BBC that accident could have happened anywhere.

Asked why ammunition was stored so close to people's homes, Colonel Chukwuma said the barracks were there before housing spread to the area.

The Senate deputy chairman, Ibrahim Mantu, told the BBC the Senate had warned last year that the armoury should be moved away from civilians.

He said that if the warning had been heeded, the disaster would have been avoided.

Click here to return

Senate deputy chairman Ibrahim Mantu
"The army should know it's inhabited by civilians"
The BBC's Dan Isaacs, Abuja
"The original death toll will inevitably rise further"
See also:

28 Jan 02 | Africa
Nigeria military under fire
28 Jan 02 | Africa
Eyewitness: Canal deaths
28 Jan 02 | Africa
Eyewitness: Lagos blast
29 Jan 02 | Africa
In pictures: Lagos explosions
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Africa stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Africa stories