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100 dead in Nigerian pipeline blaze

01 June 2008

At least 100 people were killed and many more injured as an oil pipeline exploded on the outskirts of Nigeria’s biggest city, Lagos. The accident was caused by an earth-moving excavator which crashed into the pipeline setting off a huge fire. The huge fire engulfed several surrounding homes and a school in the Ijegun suburb.

Local people threw sand and water at the flames in a bid to help firefighters extinguish the blaze, witnesses said. The injured were taken to the Ikeja general hospital, where most were treated for serious burns.

Pipeline fires are commonplace in Nigeria, Africa's biggest oil producer, in part because of poor pipeline maintenance but also because of thieves who vandalise pipelines to siphon off petrol to sell on the black market.

On Christmas Day 2007, around 40 people died in a fire at a pipeline in a creek in Lagos after it was vandalised by looters. Exactly one year earlier, more than 200 people died scooping fuel from a vandalised pipeline in another Lagos district.

State-run oil giant Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has campaigned against pipeline vandalism. It says between 400 and 500 acts of vandalism occur every year on its pipelines.

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