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Broken windows and scattered church: Festac residents speak on Abule Ado explosion

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A First Bank branch on 23 Road, Abule Ado with its glass windows shattered by the explosion.

The Abule Ado explosion, like a lot of disasters, happened when no one expected and without warning. Pipeline fires are not exactly a new thing in the community.

To curtail the activities of pipeline vandals, a team of Nigerian troops have been stationed somewhere on 7th Avenue in Festac, which borders Abule Ado.

But Sunday’s explosion was not caused by oil thieves. “Encroachment by gas handling vendors and construction of houses enabled the explosion and aggravated the impact,” group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mele Kyari said.

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And for a lot of residents of Festac, the accident was something they wish it never happened. The deafening sound and aftershock that accompanied the explosion caused by leaked gas were almost unusually. The aftershock was felt in places like Ipaja and Okota.

“I was in the church when it happened,” Chioma, who resides on 3rd Avenue in Festac told our correspondent. “Every scattered immediately. We thought it was a bomb.”

Chioma’s fears are understandable. Pipeline fire in the past at Abule Ado hardly affected Festac directly. Residents are somewhat accustomed to seeing huge mushroom of dark smoke sprouting from the community. There was no record that such occurrence was accompanied by deafening sounds and violent shaking of the earth.

“If that sound and shaking has occurred three times within 10 minutes, I’m sure some people would run to their villages by now,” a barber on 3rd Avenue, who declined to be named, said.

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A First Bank branch on 23 Road has its glass windows shattered by the explosion. An eyewitness said a lady who waiting to use Automated Teller Machine in front of the bank building sustained glass cuts.

Windshields of, at least, two cars seen on Sunday were also blown out by the explosion and smoke from the fire hung in the air on Sunday afternoon.

While the effects of the explosion on Festac was minimal, Abule Ado was not so lucky.

The fire raged at the scene for more than 12 hours. It was eventually put out at about 11:30 pm. But it reignited early morning on Monday.

“[A] Combined team of NNPC, Nigerian Navy, Lagos State Government and Federal Fire Service have effectively controlled the fire and steps taken to forestall any reignition,” Kyari said on Monday morning.

At least, 15 persons have been confirmed dead, including the principal of Bethlehem Girls College. The school buildings also collapsed. More than 50 houses were also reported to have collapsed.


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