About 100 die in Nigerian pipeline fire

May 15, 2008 11:18:53 AM PDT
Flames from a burst fuel pipeline swept through homes and a school on Thursday, killing about 100 people and injuring some 20 others on the distant outskirts of Lagos, a Red Cross official said. Road construction machinery pierced the pipe carrying refined fuel through a village outside Nigeria's main city, spreading flames into the surrounding area, said Nigerian Red Cross disaster coordinator Suleman Maikubi.

Many children fled from the school before it was completely engulfed in fire, and Red Cross officials were working to reconnect children with parents who rushed to the scene.

Maikubi said it was unclear how many children were among the roughly 100 people killed. About 20 people were injured and taken to a hospital for treatment, but fire-control teams were on the scene and bringing the blaze under control, he said.

Pipeline fires are common in Nigeria. More than 400 people died in two similar pipeline explosions in Lagos in 2006 and at least 40 died in December.

Authorities frequently blame the disasters on criminal gangs who break into the pipelines to siphon fuel for sale, attracting crowds of people who come in their wake to scavenge for fuel. The spark for the flames is never identified.