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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.

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.


Most of the people do not have insurance.

Ade Bamgbose, London
l think it will be appropriate for the Government to compensate the people that are affected by this disaster. Most of the people do not have insurance, building back what is lost will be very difficult for most of this people in a nation which has lot of problems already. l think the government need to set up an a relief fund for these people. If not, this will make living more hard for them.
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.
Adewunmi Adeyinka Isaac, Nigeria

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!
Prince Nonso Onochie, U.S.A./Nigeria

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.
Cabin Crew Member, UK

The country needs less weapons and more industries and infrastructure.

Chief Charles O. Okereke, USA
The naked truth is that a third world country such as Nigeria needs industries more than arms. The weapons stockpile will not be used for any external conflict but domestically. Nigeria is too big for its neighbours to pose any threat to her. The country's stockpile of weapons is inferior when it comes to an international conflict. More than ninety five per cent of gun shots and explosions by the military were directed at fellow citizens. The Nigerian army has been used more at home to quell uprisings and ethnic violence, than it has been used abroad. Nigeria needs conflict resolution through dialogue and respect for each ethnic nationality. The country needs less weapons and more industries and infrastructure. This is the only way the country will rise in to the lime light. Come the year 2003, the people should not forget to vote in a government that would be prudent and transparent, with good governance and well managed army. Nigeria has been misruled by successive governments, and as such I will not blame the Obasanjo regime for the Lagos disaster. Obasanjo has more house cleaning to do than it can handle. Where the country goes from here is most important. Prudent management of the country, its military and arsenal, are all boiling issues that must be addressed by aspiring presidential candidates in 2003.
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.
Akim Layeni, USA

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.
Shola Agbaje, Nigeria

The panicked public were kept in the dark for several hours.

Kayode Akomolafe, Nigeria
I was some sixteen to twenty kilometres away from the Military Cantonment (in my Church, preparing for a meeting) when the explosions started. The fact that there was no statement from the government saying what exactly was going on certainly exacerbated issues. It was most pathetic! The panicked public were kept in the dark for several hours. Groping in the darkness of "non-information" at a most traumatic period, the people turned to the government for help, but there was no government to be found. The government, so painfully, let the people that put it in power down. Those of us who had crowded into the church premises quickly put on the TV and radio sets hoping to hear martial music if a coup had taken place but there was no such thing. We then expected to hear some statement from the government saying what was happening but nothing came until about 19:45pm(Nigerian Time). I am still at tremendous loss to understand what in the world the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Leke Pitan meant when he said on AIT( Africa Independent Television) on Monday 28th of January, 2002 that the Lagos State Government responded to the situation " Promptly"! Does he call a statement made about two and a half hours after the incident started prompt? Let the politicians who are treating this issue with kid gloves now know that the electorate that will vote for are the ones they have deserted in their greatest time of need. These politicians will soon find out that Nigerians don't have a short memory after all
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.
Omololu Falobi, Nigeria

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
TitiLayo, USA

I warned my friends and relatives against such incident when I was in Nigeria.

Christopher Oliha, Belgium
I only left Nigeria on the 16th. of January. Many of my family members are living very close to the scene of this terrible, but avoidable accident. My sister, her husband and four children; 2 uncles with together, 16 children and grand-children are living in this area. I grew up in this area and have a lot of friends that are residing there. All attempts to get to any of them since this incident have failed. My sister and her children bear Omorogbe as surname. My uncles and their children bear "Oronsaye" and they live between the Gowon Housing Estate and Isolo-Ejigbo area. My friend, Barrister Okpeseyi and his family lives at Ikeja. Please, anyone who know something about them should in God's name contact me through my e-mail address.

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?
Christopher Oliha, Belgium

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.
Adeoye Adeoshun, Alberta, Canada

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.
Austin Isikhuemen, Nigeria

11 September 2001 is even more real to us now

Ledum Patrick-Bienwi,
Lagos, Nigeria
I was watching the Mali 2002 AFNC match when there was a vibration which seemed like rain storms. The strikes continued until my friend in Maryland sent a mail saying "Mende is on fire, please call me now." I received ten different calls with the same shock expressions. What baffled me was that I could feel the tremors as though I was in Ikeja. As the evening drew near I got to Maryland and the level of destruction was alarming. My friend's house was badly damaged, children packed like a bunch of fish. One thing is clear, 11 September 2001 is even more real to us now.
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.
William McDougall, Nigeria

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.
Hardebola Onakoya, Lagos, Nigeria

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.
Borut Satej, Nigeria

We are desperate to know if our family is OK

Danielle and Chike Ugorji, Canada/Nigeria
We have heard conflicting stories and are desperate to know if our family is OK. They live on Ago Palace Way in Oshodi. If you can tell us anything about Oshodi please email us:
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.
Jovita, Lagos, Nigeria

I thought I was already dead... I was saying my last prayer

Oshodi, Lagos, Nigeria
I live in Mafoluku ,just two kilometres away from the cantonement and it was only God that saved me on that day. I thought that I was already dead by the time the terrible explosion shook our house which made us run. I was just saying my last prayer.
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.
Azuka, Germany

The pellets from exploding bombshells in the sky appeared like tiny falling stars to me

Oge Igboanu, Nigeria
The force of the first explosion shook the whole house and violently opened closed doors. The second explosion sounded about a minute later, worse than the first. We could see thick smoke in the sky and hadn't the faintest idea what could be wrong. Then we heard what sounded like gunshots from many machine guns. The pellets from exploding bombshells in the sky appeared like tiny falling stars to me. We concluded it was a military coup and started praying.

The ceiling started giving way and debris was flying around

Oge Igboanu, Nigeria
The colour of the sky changed from greyish-blue to reddish-black with smoke and flames shooting upwards. The exploding bombshells were bright red, like many fireworks and they were hurtling towards us. We were so scared. When I switched on the radio we heard the armoury of the military cantonment was on fire. By now the explosions were sounding closer and we could hear shattering glass. The ceiling started giving way and debris was flying around.

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.
Oge Igboanu, Nigeria

I am looking for my sister. Her name is Titilayo.
Silla-Baba, US

I fell into the canal

Innocent Odoh, Nigeria
It was just after our Sunday service that the continuous heavy sound began. We prayed to God and kept moving towards the canal because it was the only direction away from the explosion. The concentration of the crowd kept on increasing while explosion, smoke and vibrations got higher and closer to us.

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.
Innocent Odoh, Nigeria

We couldn't ascertain what was happening until we visited the BBC site, your fast networking made people calm

Gabriel-Whyte Christian, Nigeria
I was in the office that day, when we heard a series of explosions in the air. At first we couldn't ascertain what was happening until we visited the BBC site, thanks for your fast networking - it really made a lot of people around us calm. My office is situated several kilometres away from the site of the incident. I think what caused most deaths was misinformation as well no information. If Nigerians had been quickly alerted of what was happening, people would have been calm and confident to know what next move to make, instead of just running wildly.
Gabriel-Whyte Christian, Nigeria

Three kids from my street were retrieved from the canal and have since been buried

Debare Oluwale, Nigeria
I live one kilometre from the dump. The blast was devastating. The luck was that the light was switched off promptly, otherwise there would have been massive electrocution. Houses started shaking, glass doors and windows were the first to give way and then the ceilings. We started running helter skelter - the stampede was unimaginable. The sick and elderly were abandoned as people just moved as fast as they could from the inferno.

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.
Debare Oluwale, Nigeria

We thought Lagos was under terrorist attack

Onwusongaonye Isaac, Nigeria
I was at a friend's watching a football match when we heard an explosion which we initially thought was a gun shot by the police to scare robbers. When we came outside we saw thick smoke and rays of fire in the air and heard sporadic booms. This time we thought Lagos was under terrorist attack, we never knew that it was an explosion at the dump. We started running 30 kilometres away - as far as Festac. On our way there was no space and people climbed on top of vehicles to escape. The traffic was heavy and so other people left their vehicles and ran for their lives.
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.
Then the following day being Monday the whole thing blow up on the television, many people are still searching for their loved ones, children especially.
Fred, Surulere, Lagos, Nigeria

The electrical utility had cut the lights before the explosions began and left them off, adding to the surrealism of it all

Funso Oke, Nigeria
While hordes of people ran in the direction of Opebi (north of the cantonment) I was running in the opposite direction, camera in hand because I knew that in the aftermath of the disaster the army, the same jaundiced force that has straddled the people for 35 years, would attempt to cover up what they could. I got pictures of anguished confused sweaty people (many in resplendent Sunday Church clothes) jogging or trudging barefooted in the general direction of the state border.
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

I'm seeking my fiancé. His name is Sunday Nzekwue of Lagos

Delphine Willis, US
Forgive me, but I wasn't there, but I'm seeking out my fiancé. His name is Sunday Nzekwue of Lagos, Nigeria. Please, if anyone reads this, I would appreciate ANY news of him or his family that I'm able to receive.
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.
So far, by my personal assessment, the government failed! They could only speak words. No actions. About 19 hours after it started the area was not sealed off even though shells and mortars lay in the vicinity of the depot. There were no policemen doing anything sensible inside or outside the cantonment. The only agency on ground was the Red Cross. The soldiers were not coordinated. No relief was given and nothing concrete had been done. Now we can see the true colour of our leaders. The President came to the site only to make a grave error by pointing his finger and shouting at his people "Shut up! You are unruly! I don't have to be here! I don't have to be here!"
I weep for my country. Let this be an eye-opener to the youths that it is up to them to bring this country out of its sufferings. My people, its time we woke up to our responsibilities.
Sola Ajayi, Lagos, Nigeria

One can only look back and conclude that this had to happen, if not sooner, then later

Jakob Bejer, Denmark/Nigeria
We returned home from a lovely day at the beach only to hear the first blast while opening the door in our 8th floor apartment about 25 kilometers away from the scene. The entire building was shaking so much that we immediately ran downstairs to figure out what was wrong.
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

In a country without a maintenance budget this was sadly inevitable

Aderonke Lagbaja, Lagos, Nigeria
I am appalled and very sad. I was at home asleep when I heard the sound. I would have ignored it except that the walls shook so persistently and this was far away in Isolo. I remember thinking "Thank God Dad built the house well." I later heard on the news that the armoury was on fire. I saw the explosions very well, as they were outlined in the night sky. There was palpable panic in the air. During one of the explosions the passengers in a nearby Molue jumped out of a moving vehicle. I was not hurt and I do not know anyone who was hurt. But I think the pictures here have really woken me up. This is just too terrible. But in a country without a maintenance budget this was sadly inevitable.
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.
Amisu Olalekan, Lagos, Nigeria

I have never seen anything so gruesome

Alistair McDougall, Nigeria
I have lived in Ikeja for 13 years and have never seen anything so gruesome. My parents were scared as hell and I am very sorry for all the mothers and fathers that lost their loved ones.
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.
Abbey Rafiu Adegboyega, Nigeria

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.
Paul Ohia, Nigeria

Many thought the military had taken over

Julian Taiwo, Nigeria
At about 1800 I was in a hired cab at the Maryland bus stop opposite the Ikeja cantonment, when we saw people running helter skelter. We stopped to ask those that could manage to talk what was going on and they warned us not to continue. Already, the motorists were no longer obeying the traffic lights as they fled the scene. The cab driver, already panicking, wanted to drop me off right there and then but I begged him to continue towards Ojota. We managed to escape but the explosions kept coming at intervals. We saw balls of fire up in the sky. Women and children were just running to nowhere in particular. Many actually thought the military had taken over, some said the military have had it with Obasanjo's government . Some even said it was in retaliation to the Chief Bola Ige's death. Many fleeing vehicles were involved in accidents particularly on the Ojota route.
Juliana Taiwo, Nigeria

My folks have been rushed to hospital to be treated for shock

Demola, Lagos, Nigeria
I was coming from Lagos island on Sunday evening when I heard the blasts starting. I could not figure out what the problem was but by the time I got some kilometres away from Ikeja, I saw people running here and there. On getting to my house at Anthony village, part of my building was already shattered and the sliding door and windows are broken. My folks in the house have been rushed to hospital this morning to be treated for shock and in fact my youngest cannot hear properly as he is still undergoing treatment at Maryland specialist hospital in Lagos.
Demola, Lagos, Nigeria

Social miscreants reportedly cashed in on the situation to extort money and harass people

Adeyeye Joseph Nigeria
The first explosion was at about 1800 and it shook the building I live in in Ikotun - several kilometres away from the hypercentre. But it was largely ignored. We took notice after two other explosions shook the neighbourhood, rattled windows, forced doors opened and sent people scampering for safety. Each blast was so serious that it sounded as if it happened very close to us. Sparks flew all over the area. It was horrible. Although Ikotun is about 45 minutes drive away, we saw a fireball and perceived the acrid smell of cordite in the air. People panicked. Social miscreants known in the local parlance as "area boys" reportedly cashed in on the situation to extort money and harass people. The air of uncertainty and fear was further compounded by speculations that it was the military that was trying to come back.
Adeyeye Joseph Nigeria

Throughout the night I kept hearing wailing and cries of families looking for their lost ones

K K Ibrahim, Nigeria
I was at Alagomeji area close to Yaba attending an old students' meeting yesterday evening when we heard the thunderous noises in continuous sequence. We concluded that someone was working on a tank construction. As fate would have it, I saw the car of my former boss passing and decided to call him. He told me that the Ikeja army cantonment was on fire and that his wife was out and he was worried as there were explosions all around his house which is situated behind Ikeja cantonment. I asked if he was at home and he confirmed this. I suspected that it was his wife I had seen earlier and told him so. Today when I called my former boss he told me that part of his house was brought down by shrapnel and that his brother-in-law was seriously wounded. Luckily for me I got home yesterday but throughout the night I kept hearing wailing and cries of families looking for their lost ones. This morning close to my house in Isolo, I saw scores of bodies of young children that drowned in the canal while trying to escape from the explosions. I hope that the Government will show a human face to the citizens of Lagos state as the resulting loss of the disaster is irreplaceable.
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.

There was no police, no security, no emergency services at all

James Agada, Nigeria
As we descended the third mainland bridge, we ran into a chaotic situation with cars frantically turning and running in all directions. Our efforts to call them on the phone failed as the network became overloaded. We managed to turn around at this point and headed towards Ojota. When we got to Ojota, the full impact of what was happening hit us. There was a sea of people screaming and running. Despite people asking us not to, we turned towards our house and now we could see the huge fire and the explosions. It seemed to have already engulfed our house (which it had not). As we slowly drove through the mass of people towards the direction of our house and the inferno, we suddenly saw one of my cousins. He ran up to us and said they had left the house earlier on and trekked the three kilometres to where we met them. They were all safe.

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.
James Agada, Nigeria

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.
Tunde, Nigeria

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.
Fashoranti Samuel, Nigeria, Lagos

I thought it was a fuel station burning

Sobowale, Nigeria
I was in the church for a youth programme at about 1800 when the first thunderous boom was heard. I explained it off as a natural phenomenon. The subsequent booms and sounds were more intense with tremor and shatters on gates. I drove out of the church with my family and friends only to see people on the streets. I thought it was a fuel station burning, hence the explosions, only to find out through radio that the whole incident emanated from bomb explosions at the distant army cantonment. If the impact was felt in my remote area of Abaranje, Ikotun, then I can imagine the magnitude of the damage that would have resulted from the accident.

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.
Sobowale, Nigeria

It beats me how the military could locate such a dangerous store of ammunition in a densely populated residential area

Steve Popoola, Nigeria
I live at Idimu, an area just few kilometres away from the international airport. I had only just passed the army barracks about 30 minutes ago and just settled down at home when I felt something like an earth tremor. I ignored the first one but after the second and third sounds, I grew worried and looked out of the window. It was then I saw huge sheets of fire in the distance. It was terrible. I looked around me and saw people coming out of their homes and preparing to flee. But since I was at a vantage position on the second floor of my house, I stayed put knowing that the situation was just confined to a particular area. It still beats my imagination how the military could locate such a dangerous store of ammunition in the middle of a densely populated residential area.
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.
Ojokojo Datubo, Nigeria

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.
Oluseyi Olojede, Nigeria

We ran out only to see a mighty mushroom plume in the horizon

Phil, Nigeria
I was at my parents' home, four kilometres from the ammuntions dump in Ikeja. At about 1730 local time, I heard two very loud explosions that shook the whole building sending glass planes everywhere. Thinking the house had collapsed we ran out only to see a mighty mushroom plume in the horizon and a humongous blast followed with hot air knocking people down and an ear-shattering blast that set off car alarms on the usually quiet street. This barrage continued for hours as people, pet dogs and other animals ran helter skelter without a definite direction. It was a nightmare as nobody knew what was going and the force of the vibration was felt all over the city making people wrongly think that the explosions were from different military barracks in the city and everybody got on the phone at once.
Phil, Nigeria

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.
Obinna, Nigeria

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.
Omotosho Tunde Abib, Nigeria

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.
Speechee Onakoya, Nigeria

All we could do was run for our lives

Frances Ihekwoeme, Nigeria
It started around 1730 after we came back from church and finished our meal. What we heard was a very big blast, and all we could do was run for our lives. Some people lost their beloved ones because of this incident. How I wish you people were there and could see things yourself. It is very terrible. I live at Maryland, near the area where the barrack is located. The government have to do something because all the buildings around that place are affected.
Frances Ihekwoeme, Nigeria

This morning there is calm

Nick Braley, UK
A terrible night. The first blast went off around 1750. I was situated in Maryland around three quarters of a mile from the explosions.
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.
Seun Adewusi, Nigeria

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