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Nigeria pipeline blast kills up to 200 people-police

Written by: Staff
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INAGBE BEACH, May 12 (Reuters) A pipeline explosion killed up to 200 people on the outskirts of Nigeria's biggest city Lagos today, police said.

The Red Cross said the pipeline blew up while vandals were tapping into it to steal petrol, igniting about 500 nearby jerrycans full of fuel. Theft of fuel or crude oil from pipelines is common in Nigeria.

''You can see the corpses. Some are burnt to ash. Others are remnants. ... We estimate 150 to 200 people died,'' Lagos State Police Commissioner Emmanuel Adebayo said at the scene.

Up to 50 charred, unrecognisable corpses were huddled close to the pipeline, which had been dug out of the sand and bore visible marks of drilling in several places.

The pipeline, which belongs to state company Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), runs just under the surface of Inagbe Beach, a stretch of golden sand on one of many islands that dot the Lagos lagoon.

About a dozen police and a few Red Cross officials were at the scene. Most of the bodies were close to the pipeline but a few were floating in the sea. Inagbe Beach is not a populated area but people apparently came there to tap into the pipeline.

A dilapidated port city home to an estimated 13 million people, Lagos has been hit before by devastating explosions. A blast at a munitions dump in 2002 killed more than 1,000 people.

REUTERS CH BD2038

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