500 feared dead in Nigeria blast
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Up to 500 people were feared to have been burnt alive on Tuesday when fuel from a vandalised gasoline pipeline exploded in Nigeria's largest city, Lagos, emergency workers said as they tried to document more charred corpses lying at the scene.
Hundreds of bodies could be seen jumbled and fused together in the raging flames at the blast site. Intense heat kept rescue workers back as smoke billowed over the heavily populated Adule Egba neighbourhood.
"We can only recognise them through the skulls, the bodies are scattered over the ground," Red Cross secretary-general Abiodun Orebiyi said. Workers "cannot get close enough because the fire is still burning," he said.
"We are talking hundreds (dead). We are yet to confirm the death toll so we don't know if it is 300, 400 or 500," Orebiyi said, adding that 60 people had been evacuated to hospital with serious burns.
A Reuters witness saw hundreds of bodies, most burned beyond recognition, lying at the scene of the explosion as emergency workers tried to put out the fire. A Red Cross volunteer at the scene said: "A lot of people have been roasted. They are littered on the ground."
It still is not clear what caused the rupture or ignition of the spilled fuel.
Witnesses said the rupture on the gasoline pipeline came shortly after midnight, with scavengers collecting the fuel in plastic jerry cans for hours before the puddles of collected petrol caught fire after dawn.
"This was a preventable tragedy," said Joel Ogundere, whose home was next to the blast. "It was poverty, ignorance and greed," said the lawyer.
The pipeline is owned by Nigeria's state-owned petroleum company and was transporting refined fuel for domestic consumption.
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