By Olasunkanmi Akoni, Bose Adelaja & Ediri Ejoh
Tragedy struck again in the early hours of yesterday in Lagos, as a Liquefied Petroleum Gas, LPG, plant, located along densely populated Candos Road, Baruwa, Ipaja-Ayobo, Old Alimosho Local Government Area, suddenly exploded and engulfed the entire area, killing at least 13 persons. Several other persns were injured, while properties worth millions of naira were destroyed.
This happened barely two weeks after a similar explosion in Iju-Ishaga area of Lagos left 40 people injured and buildings destroyed.
There were however, conflicting figures of causalities as government officials claimed that eight persons died, but an eyewitness claimed he saw about 13 charred bodies recovered from the scene.
The causalities included who include a women and children. One of the women, identified as Mrs. Adebowale, 55, died on the Cenotaph of her late husband infront of their building.
She was said to have died while trying to retrieve from the house the money she borrowed as loan from one of the microfinance banks
Among the survivors were a mother and two children who were taken to Gbagada General Hospital Burns Unit for medical attention.
It was gathered that an LPG tanker was in the process of discharging it’s content at the Best Roof Gas Plant Station but unfortunately, the station’s generating set was running and in the process sparked which exploded and threw the discharging tanker across the road.
The Director-General, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency LASEMA, Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, who raced to the scene after distress call, attributed the incident to carelessness on the part of the operators.
Giving the post disaster assessment of the explosion, he said a total number of eight bodies were recovered at the scene while 15 victims suffered major burns and have been transferred to Gbagada General Hospital Burns Unit.
Similarly, he said 25 buildings were damaged during the explosion out of which 10 were severely affected.
Also, 16 shops, a private school building and a hotel were razed while a Pentecostal Church, Folem was mildly affected..
He urged residents to report unsavoury and dangerous practices within their neighbourhoods to relevant agencies.
Victims narrate ordeals
A survivor, Mr. John Ogungbile, 75, a retired British Airways staff, recounted Her ordeal: “We were woken up by a loud bang on our door at about 5am, with a scream, come out fire everywhere, at that instance with my pyjamas on, I ran outside with my children about five of them. But we were confused about how to save my ailing wife, 72, who is having health challenge. But luckily enough, my daughter managed to back her and escaped to a safe location. We thank God that we were not consumed. But the house was partly affected by the fire. They also looted my tenant who is having a frozen shop. My phones were also stolen by miscreants who cashed in on the situation to loot.”
“This incident would not have happened if the state government had heeded to our earlier 2017 petition to stop the operation of the gas plant in the area. Unfortunately, we were told by government officials to refund the owner of the plant if we do not want the plant located in the area. At this point we gave up.”
Another survivor Mrs. Rukayat Adeyemi who and her family said the incident threw them into panic.”
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has directed relevant state agencies to carry out full audit of all Liquefied Petroleum Gas, LPG, plants across the state as part of measures to ensure adequate protection of lives of residents as well as prevent future occurrence following the Baruwa gas explosion.
Meanwhile, Sanwo-Olu, has expressed deep sorrow over the “unfortunate” incident, describing it as a sad memory in the life of the administration.
In his reaction, the governor said the preliminary and final reports on the cause of the explosion suggested negligence on the part of the gas plant operators, noting that the government would take stiffer measures against operators of gas plants and/or any combustible items in the state to avoid future recurrence of such disaster.
The governor said, the Lagos State Safety Commission and the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency have been notified of the next line of action.
On the audit of gas plants, Director-General of Lagos State Safety Commission, Mr. Lanre Mojola, who was at the site of the incident, told Vanguard correspondent that “the state Governor has directed safety commission and other relevant sister agencies to immediately commence audit of all gas plants with a view to prevent future occurrence and ensure adequate protection of lives and properties of residents.
Sanwo-Olu enjoined residents to always report any suspicious activities that may be harmful to the citizens in their neighbourhood to the appropriate state government agencies for preventive measures to be taken.
Also, candidate of All Progressives Congress, APC, for the October 31 senatorial bye-election in Lagos East, Mr. Tokunbo Abiru has commiserated with the families of the victims of an explosion.
He expressed this concern in a statement he issued on Thursday, tasking the Lagos State Government and Department Petroleum Resources (DPR) to synergise on the need for all the operators of gas plants to comply with health, safety and environment standards.
In a two-page statement he personally signed on Thursday, the APC candidate urged Lagos residents statewide “to always report cases of violation anywhere health, safety and environment standards are compromised in the state.
“Every Lagosian must take this obligation seriously in support of the government and as a measure to forestall avoidable loss of lives, destruction of assets and disruption of public life in the future,” Abiru explained.