LAGOS (Reuters) – A fire on a pipeline owned by Nigeria’s state oil company in the commercial capital Lagos killed three people on Sunday, a Reuters witness said.
The blaze broke out in the Abule-Egba district of the southwestern megacity. Residents said it started shortly before 8 p.m. (1900 GMT).
A Reuters television camera operator counted three dead bodies at the scene. The fire burned nearby houses and vehicles.
Another witness, resident Ayo Adewale, said there were “many dead people”. Reuters was unable to verify the claim.
Many fires on pipelines in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest crude oil producer, are caused by theft and sabotage. The methods used to steal oil often result in accidents that cause fires.
“People were running and I was asking where was this happening, then I got near here and they said pipeline vandals did this,” said Adewale, who was in the area when the fire took hold.
Oluwafemi Damilola, director general of Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), said he and his team were told “some undesirable elements vandalized the pipeline”.
It was not immediately clear what, if any, impact the pipeline fire would have on the operations of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
NNPC spokesman Samson Makoji late on Sunday the state oil company was assessing the situation.
Reporting by Seun Sanni; Additional reporting by Camillus Eboh in Abuja; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Kim Coghill