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Thursday, 31 January, 2002, 17:11 GMT
Lagos explosion: Your experiences
As many as 600 people are now known to have been killed as a result of a series of huge explosions at an army munitions dump in the Nigerian city of Lagos.Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
The full scale of the disaster became apparent as rescue workers began pulling bodies out of the Oke Afa canal, close to the site of the blast.
Many people - the majority of them children - are missing and thousands have been left homeless as a result of the inferno, which started on Sunday evening.
President Olusegun Obasanjo has visited the scene and ordered a full military inquiry into what caused the explosions.
If you were an eye witness to the explosions or know of people involved, email us with your experiences.
If you have a photograph of yourself that we can publish alongside your comment, please send it as a file attachment.
Ade Bamgbose, London
It is gruesome. The scene is nothing to write home about. I was there this morning and it is terrible. In fact, you would not understand this unless you are here.
So many families had lost contact, but many thanks to the RED CROSS SOCIETY they have succeeded in re-uniting some displaced families.
May the Almighty God grant us, Nigerians and the families of the bereaved, the strength and spirit to bear the loss from this tragic event. Hopefully, the Federal Government of Nigeria will take desperate measures to ensure great safety and security for the lives of citizens & tourists to avoid such fatal count in a future disaster as this.
God save us!
The BA and Virgin crew were all staying in a hotel in Ikeja about a mile away from the arms dump. We all managed to evacuate the hotel and find the rest of the crew. The explosions were terrifying. We could also hear gunfire, fearing that it was a military coup. Some crew members had been stranded in the USA after 9/11. We were all very glad to return to London the next day.
Chief Charles O. Okereke, U.S.A.
There is a saying that people that do not learn from their mistakes are condemned to repeat it. When I heard about the explosions, I remember what I saw at the Oshodi pedestrian bridge in 1993. I saw a massive sea of humanity. I had never seen that many people in one spot in Lagos. The sea of humanity I saw there 9 years ago were living, sleeping among those bombs that have been seating at the armoury just waiting for this disaster to happen.
There is no City planning of any kind in Lagos a city with a population bigger than that of New York or Los Angeles. In Lagos I have seen vendors setting up markets on Carter bridge in Lagos, where every body is driving impatiently to get to where they are going. I have seen people cooking under the bridges with cars above. Nobody sees any dangers in these lawlessness . They are accidents waiting to happen.
25 years ago Isolo, Isheri, Iju, Ikeja were not that densely populated.
When the populations of those areas started
to increase that was when the various levels of Government should have raised red flag about the armoury in Ikeja.
I am not going to blame the people in power now, but I like other Lagosians
want hem to start taking preventive measures right away.
The military installations in other heavily populated areas of Lagos should be cleared of explosives. The Lagos state Govt should enforce zoning laws they have on the books.
I wonder how many fire stations are in Lagos, If these kinds of event occurs again what plan does the various levels of Government have to address it. None probably.
I was fortunate to have left Lagos on Saturday morning. But l left behind my mother and only brother, friends and other family members, all of who live very, very close to the cantonment where the unfortunate incident happened. Even my former office, Channels Television isn't so far away. I can only keep praying my family is okay, even though l haven't heard from any of them yet.
I will have to go to Lagos tomorrow to see if they are okay, l dread the trip, but at least l'll have some peace of mind and rest. What if they are among the six hundred already dead? I dread the thought, hope for the best and pray for the people whose families are there.
Kayode Akomolafe, Nigeria
I was at work in the office with my 3-year old kid at Ogba, about six or seven kilometres from the military cantonment, when it happened - I thought the building was going to collapse! The vibrations were so great and I was surprised the office windows didn¿t smash.
It felt like several earthquakes were going on all at the same time. It was real scary. Luckily my son slept through it all and as soon as we were able to confirm that it was a fire and not a terrorist attack or a military coup as we had initially feared, we jumped into the car and sped back to our house at Abule Egba, on the outskirts of the city. It was almost like our own Sept 11. It was initially very confusing and nobody knew where to head to; the phones were jammed and calls couldn¿t go through and lots of people were on the street heading aimlessly about.
I saw the pictures today and I wept. Over 300 children and women ran into an open canal while escaping from the military barracks and all drowned. They were really really gory sights. As a parent I felt like my own kids were among them and the pains were almost unbearable.
It was terribly, terribly tragic.
I just want to wish all the people of Nigeria especially Lagos my greatest condolence and I pray for everyone, that such a thing will never happen again by the grace of God and for all the families who have lost loved ones
This whole incident shows vividly how bad our country is being ruled. I warned my friends and relatives against such incident when I was in Nigeria in December-January. The only word with which I can describe Nigeria is that it is in the state of anarchy. Nobody or property is secured. The cities and towns are very dirty. There is fire every where in Lagos and other places across the country. Fire seem to be the only means for people to clear off refuse and bushes. This could be the cause of this terrible accident. What are our leaders up to? Only to steal and to oppress? I listened to the president speak at the scene of the devastation and I asked myself: what was he saying?
In other countries, such an incident can lead to the resignation of the defence minister and sanctioning of the military leaders that are responsible for this accident. In Nigeria, it is another room to steal more money. And people are still suffering. When will this all end?
I have been trying to get some of my family and friends on the phone but to no avail. Please, for any one of you reading this, kindly let me know the condition of the rest. Kayode Adeoshun, Christinna Odumosu/family, Joko Morakinyo/family, Taiye Oladoyin/family, Also Hon. Kayode Anibaba (Lagos State Commissioner) Muka, Tosin, Titi Smith, Gbenga, Lati Alhaji Smith/family in Shomolu and the rest that escaped my mind. My prayer goes to everybody in Nigeria during this darkest hour.
I had gone to see my aunt who was visiting around Unity Street, Ikeja and arrived just as the first bomb went off! We didn't know what it was at first so we went upstairs to see my aunt. While there another series went off and as TV was on, we thought it sounded like a tropical storm accompanied by thunder claps. It thereafter started to 'pour'. The house vibrated violently at every explosion- there were some small explosions followed intermitently by those I will describe as monumental and deafening volcanic eruption-like exlosions that seemed to stop your heartbeat. I decided, as I had my lovely wife and two children with me, to find my way home immediately as I live on the other side of town. At least, I knew of no munitions dump close to Magodo. We were very sure the explosions were from the direction of the cantonment as we could see smoke rising. People were already threatening that if this was a military coup, they will not cooperate with whoever the junta head turns out to be. Others expressed disappointment with the politicians and sounded happy to have the military back if only to spite those they called 'ruiners' of the country.
We got home in one piece even though we had to drive through a sea of people running away towards Isheri in the direction of Ogun state. Through the negligence of someone somewhere, Nigerians have become refugees in their own country and hundreds, perhaps, thousands, have lost their lives. We must find a way to ensure this madness does not repeat itself. We owe that to the dead and the maimed children who we had lied to yesterday that they were our future.
Ledum Patrick-Bienwi, Lagos, Nigeria
Seeing the flames made me fall on my knees and pray. It was horrible, scaring my family, and friends. We all hid thinking we were under attack. Now I know how New York felt.
27 January will mark a day we will forever remember when lives were lost in a thick dirty and stagnant water, alon with properties and missing dads, mums, brothers, sisters as it may apply. I was in the office that fateful day when suddenly it shook with such immense strength that I thought an earthquake had occurred, so I asked a colleague to check if the mast on the building was intact because there was fear already on everybody's face around.
Not long after he came back we heard a great sound like a big bang sounding so loud that it shook most of the buildings around. It was then we knew it was more than just a thunder strike. I went straight to the net to check on the BBC because they always had the fastest happenings about Nigeria; then we saw it all that there was a bomb blast and so on. Though getting a bus home that day was hectic I still managed. The truth is there is still fear in people's eyes. We hope the FGN will employ the services of experts in bomb detecting, like the US marines to help pick up all the littered un-exploded munitions.
I have been living in Nigeria for 13 years. In my whole time here, this definitely is the saddest and worst thing that has ever happened to the nation. My deepest feelings go out to all the families and friends who lost loved ones in this tragedy. God bless us all.
Danielle and Chike Ugorji, Canada/Nigeria
It came so suddenly. At 1745 when I was about to go for evening service, we heard a sound and rushed out thinking it was an aircraft that was firing. It sounded the second time and we saw light in the sky and the sound continued and people started running for safety trying to look for a safe place. Most of them ran into swamp areas and ended up losing their lives. My house was affected and the ceiling fell down completely. My neighbour lost her sister and a child - so many people have died.
Mafoluku, Oshodi, Lagos, Nigeria
Can any one reading this help me locate my two friends who work with Cyberspace, a computer outfit in Vitoria Island? They are: Celestine Uwaya and Presca Agholor. Since this blast I have tried to get in touch but all attempts have failed. Your help will be appreciated, please.
We wanted to stay indoors but it was getting dangerous so we left in case things got worse and resulted in a stampede. My fiancé came in search of me so I entered his car to get out of the area but pedestrians were all over the place, making movement very difficult. Ilupeju is a low-density area and with such heavy human and vehicle traffic there, I hate to think what the high density area behind the cantonment was like. We drove all the way to Surulere which was relatively calm. Parked in a side street, we stayed with two policemen who were on night duty. We could still hear the explosions but now they sounded quite far off. Soon after ten at night, we drove back home.
I am looking for my sister. Her name is Titilayo.
I fell into the canal. It was very difficult to drag myself out, not only because of my inability to swim and the muddy canal water, but because drowning people grabbed my body expecting to be helped out. After struggling myself out, the life race to no destination continued. Some said Bin Laden's men must have entered Lagos. Some said it may be a military coup, but the most important thing was to escape the bomb first. So the mass race continued. I got tired at a place called Ogudu, towards the Lagos city border. A man living there picked me up and took very good care of me at his house. He transported me back to Maryland the next day after the governor's speech.
Gabriel-Whyte Christian, Nigeria
The initial rumour was that it was a coup, then a Bin Laden reprisal and later, Cameroon. No official announcement came from any responsible quarters. The bolder ones started moving back to their houses, believing that it would subside soon. My wife came back after midnight. Three kids who fled from my street were retrieved from the canal and have since been buried. It was an experience I would never like to go through again.
Onwusongaonye Isaac, Nigeria
It was around 1945, and I was coming back from evening church service, when a passer-by told us that the Ikeja cantonment armoury was on fire, and Oshodi, and Maryland areas were seriously affected. I rushed home and on the television the Lagos state governor and state police commissioner were on-air to calm the people and told them that they should not panic or move about. The pictures that were shown were devastating to me.
The electrical utility had cut the lights BEFORE the explosions began and left them off, adding to the surrealism of it all. On my seven kilometre hike towards the barracks, I passed enraged camera crews from private TV stations already cordoned off by army men acting individually. I got through to the gates of the cantonment just as dusk approached. The ensuing darkness was broken only by the awesome explosions, as nobody dared turn generators on. My journey proved a bit futile at the end, because the postures of the soldiers at the gates (some weeping openly) left little doubt of what their reaction would be if the flash of my camera had broken through the darkness. I would probably have been shot on the spot.
Funso Oke, Nigeria
Delphine Willis, US
I was at the military cantonment today to see for myself the damage done. I must confess that it was a surreal experience. I weep for my country, not mainly for the fact that this horrible thing occurred, but that the government could not rise up to the challenge and in the real sense of the word, lead the people.
After returning back home we desperately tried to find out what happened by listening to Nigerian TV. However, only a few minutes report without any details were given.
This morning I drove through the affected area and saw trucks loaded with dead bodies while groups of people were discussing how to get further into the area to look for dislocated family members. Being a former army officer it's just completely incomprehensible how the military could ever get the idea of keeping this kind of material inside the most densely populated area of Nigeria. And this is in a country with vast areas of completely unpopulated areas of desert and bush. One can only look back and conclude that this had to happen, if not sooner, then later.
Jakob Bejer, Denmark/Nigeria
Aderonke Lagbaja, Lagos, Nigeria
I was at Alpha Beach which is about 45 kilometres from Ikeja. At about 1825 we heard a blast resembling an earth tremor, and it repeated itself about 18 times. Thereafter, people began to run helter skelter and there was information immediately from our local radio station saying that the cantoment armoury was on fire due to a packaging error. I managed to call my brother who was about two kilometres from the incident scene and confirmed he was alright.
Alistair McDougall, Nigeria
It looked like a movie when I came out of my house in Isolo, Okota very close to Lagos Airport, at 1800 on Sunday. I think we should endeavour to seek for God's protection at these times. Nigeria is a civilised country that can handle any situation without any foreign intervention and for those who lost their lives, families, properties, or those in pain, I feel for them that God may recover all their losses.
Speculation was rife among those living far from the explosions. Some said it was lightening, later it was clear that the sound was military-like. Many suspected an attack by a foreign army. The last speculation was that the government had been overthrown and this led to much panic until Dr Lekan Peters, the state commissioner for health, came on air to assure citizens that the government was intact. I was in the Apapa area of Lagos where there are more than six military barracks.
Juliana Taiwo, Nigeria
Demola, Lagos, Nigeria
Adeyeye Joseph Nigeria
K K Ibrahim, Nigeria
I live with my family in Maryland less than a kilometre from the cantonment. In the morning on Sunday I had gone out with my wife to attend some meetings and visit a friend. Our plan was to attend evening mass in Ikoyi, 15-20 kilometres away. As we were on our way, my junior brother called me that he had just heard a mighty explosion which seemed to be coming from the direction of our house. He was at this point about two kilometres from our house. I asked him to go home and check what was going on and headed home via the third mainland bridge.
Not quite 20 minutes later he called me to say that something seemed to be wrong at the cantonment and that he suspects the armoury was on fire and advised us not to come home as it could be dangerous. He also told us that the glass windows of our house had all been broken. I told him that regardless, we will come home. I asked them to take care of themselves especially my two little boys aged three and one and my pregnant sister.
The huge crowd kept surging past with everyone increasing their pace as the explosions continued. There was no police, no security, no emergency services at all.
We were able to gather everybody from my house together and we drove to our friends house in Okeira Ogba where the explosions could only be heard faintly.
We slept on the roof of the house tired but thankful that none of us was hurt.
All I can say is, I hope our government will do something to alleviate people's sufferings, those who've lost their homes and their means of livelihood. My family and I just moved as far away as we could after the first three blasts. From as far as Palmgrove, some two kilometres away, we both heard and felt the blasts as our building actually shook. We could also see the balls of fire and rockets exploding in the air. It was awful, but we're grateful to God it didn't get any worse.
This is the greatest tragic event ever to hit my beloved country... Nigeria. But the question to ask is this - who is the architect of this bizarre occurrence? Nature, act of God or the foolishness of our security agents and their employer?
One man's negligence led to untimely and sudden passing on of hundreds of useful souls.
The Lord in his infinite mercy grant those that lose their lives eternal rest and their family the fortitude to bear the loss.
Meanwhile, while on the way to the office early this morning, I counted five corpses already brought out of the Oke Afa, Isolo canal - these people drowned in the panic that ensued while the blasts lasted. It was a sorry sight as sparsely-clothed men, women and children who had fled for their dear lives were seen streaming along the roadside with anguish-painted and grief-stricken faces to their abandoned homes.
Steve Popoola, Nigeria
This is a sad way to start the year, I do hope that those that lost loved ones are comforted by the Lord and the federal government should send in relief materials and compensate those that lost properties because this is all their fault, they have left institutions just like this to waste away.
Late afternoon yesterday we started hearing the terrible sound of explosives. Along with many people, we started running, until we got to Oshodi, a kilometre from the armoury barracks at Ikeja.
There were stampedes, people were badly injured, young children, elderly ones, market women at the popular Oshodi market. Many houses collapsed around the barrack and the government residential area, Ikeja. This morning, many residents of the affected barracks were still counting their losses. Many could not see their family members. For now my elder sister, who resides in the next street to the barracks at Maryland with her family cannot be located.
Why did the Nigerian army locate its munitions dump inside the city and endanger the lives of people? The government should carry out a thorough investigation into this.
I was far away in my house situated in Sango-Ota, which is a neighbouring town to Lagos. I heard a deafening sound and ever since then it was persistent. I could hear the vibrations on the window panes and the balcony terrace. The sky was still hazy as a result of the harmatan but there was no smoke. I had no clue to this strange noise to suggest it was a thunderstorm in the month of January. There was panic. I thought of the gas pipes in Lagos until I heard the first-hand information from one of the local radio stations It was so terrible, it was like getting ten metres close to the sun when the pictures were shown on television.
The tragedy has really being a great loss to lots of Nigerians and so we plead with all countries that love Nigerians to please do what they can do to help the situation.
Frances Ihekwoeme, Nigeria
After the initial explosion, which put my first window through, there were only relatively minor explosions. Then around 1810 the next bang came which put through two more of my windows. The large explosions carried on intermittently until around 2030. The first you would see was a red light across the horizon. Then the noise like thunder after maybe three or four seconds and finally a tremor, about a second later.
Buildings shook and windows were put through. Smoke balls would rise and on a few occasions flames could be seen high in the sky. There was a sort of calm from the explosions after 2100. A few minor ones were heard as late as 430 this morning though nothing as big as earlier. Fireballs raised into the sky and many flares and shells could be seen firing up in the skies. Reports of 20 to 25 major explosions sound about right as well as countless minor ones. On the roads this morning in Ikeja there is calm with many people evidently either returning home or moving out of the area having found their homes to be inhabitable.
Nick Braley, UK
I was at the Akoka area of Lagos, that is several kilometres from the military site where the explosion happened. At about 1800 on the Sunday, I started hearing strange sounds. We all thought it was thunder striking but later the buildings started shaking, then we quickly put on the radio where we heard several people phoning the station for help.
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