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Page last updated at 09:06 GMT, Friday, 16 May 2008 10:06 UK

Children killed in Nigeria blast

The scene of the fire - people look on as firefighters fight the blaze
Some rescue workers fear about 200 have died

At least 100 people, many of them children, have been killed in an oil pipeline explosion in the Nigerian city of Lagos, the local Red Cross says.

The blast tore through Ijegun suburb, engulfing schools and homes after a bulldozer burst the pipeline.

Officials at the scene said many died after being overcome by smoke; others were killed in a stampede to escape.

One rescue worker told the BBC a local tracing centre had been formed to find missing relatives.

"People are looking for family members. Parents are looking for children," he said, as firefighters fought the blaze with sand and water.

Discarded school bags and sandals littered a school whose pupils tried to flee. Witnesses said the ground around the explosion was so hot that shoes melted.

One local resident, injured in the fire, described the blast.

"I was just doing sewing work when I saw everything just got exploded. I just picked up my baby and started running - it was the heat," she told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

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The BBC's Umar Shehu Elleman in Lagos says a two-hour downpour on Friday morning may have quenched the flames that were brought under control overnight but were still burning.

Accident

At least 36 people have been taken to a nearby military hospital, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) spokesman Abdulsalam Mohammed said.

Correspondents say residents are beginning to assess the damage to the area.

"People have lost millions of naira and lots of cars," resident Jimoh Hazan told AFP news agency.

Other residents said there was incidents of looting homes deserted in the aftermath of the blast.

NIGERIA PIPELINE DISASTERS
December 2007: At least 40 people killed in Lagos
December 2006: At least 250 killed in Lagos
May 2006: At least 150 killed in Lagos
Dec 2004: At least 20 killed in Lagos
Sept 2004: At least 60 killed in Lagos
June 2003: At least 105 killed in Abia State
Jul 2000: At least 300 killed in Warri
Mar 2000: At least 50 killed in Abia State
Oct 1998: At least 1,000 killed in Jesse

Nigeria is one of the world's major oil producers and pipelines cut through many residential areas, both in cities such as Lagos and oil-producing areas.

Several of these have exploded, often when local people cut holes in them to steal oil.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) says there were at least 400 acts of vandalism on its pipelines each year, reports the AP news agency.

But the BBC's Alex Last in Lagos says it seems this incident was just a terrible accident.

At least 40 people were killed in a pipeline explosion in December in Lagos last year.

In 2006, some 400 people were killed in two blasts in Lagos.




SEE ALSO
In pictures: Fighting Lagos blast
16 May 08 |  In Pictures
Chaos and despair at Lagos fire
15 May 08 |  Africa
Nigeria mourns pipeline victims
27 Dec 06 |  Africa
'Burnt to ash' in Nigeria blast
12 May 06 |  Africa
Country profile: Nigeria
30 Apr 08 |  Country profiles

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