Tuesday, December 7

5 killed, vehicles, houses destroyed as phone call triggers gas explosion

No fewer than five persons were on Tuesday confirmed dead following a gas explosion on Ojekunle Street, off Ladipo Street, in the Mushin area of Lagos State.

Many houses were damaged and no fewer than 15 vehicles were also destroyed by the explosion.

Sources say the site was a mishmash of shattered blocks, wood, iron, cars, and gas cylinders.

It was learnt that the explosion occurred at a mechanic workshop housing not just mechanics, but panel beaters, gas retailers and other traders.

An eyewitnesses, said the incident happened when one of the trader identified as Mama Emma, was frying puff-puff, and around the same time, a gas retailer, identified as Sodiq, was dispensing product from a cylinder to another for a customer. 

Witnesses said while Sodiq who usually sold gas to panel beaters in the workshop was dispensing the gas, his customer received a call, which immediately triggered the explosion.

It was learnt that Sodiq, the customer, Mama Emma and two others were burnt to death, and their remains bagged and handed over to their families for burial.

Many traders were seen weeping at the scene, while some of the traders described the gas retailer as a hard-working man who did not deserve to die in such a cruel manner.

No fewer than 15 vehicles of different brands parked within the premises were shattered and their engines destroyed by the explosion.

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Some of the vehicles were buried in the rubble caused by the blast, as sheds used by mechanics were uprooted and fell flat on the shattered vehicles.

One of the mechanic who also owned a workshop on the site, told reporters that his car, a Toyota Highlander, and four others belonging to his customers, were damaged.

The mechanic said he had never experienced such losses in his 24 years at the workshop.

The engineer who spoke in Yoruba, thanked God for saving him from the ugly incident. “I thank God for the preservation of my life. I had a vehicle in my workshop when the explosion happened and four others belonging to my customers. The vehicles were for repairs, but I have informed their owners and they have asked me to send photos of the damage.”

He noted that one of his apprentices was severely injured and had been rushed to a nearby hospital.

Another mechanic, who identified himself as Ahmed, explained that he narrowly escaped being among the victims of the blast. 

He said he was at the workshop around 7am shortly before the blast.

“I was here sleeping in one of the vehicles when one of us was hit by a motorcycle. I and another apprentice rushed the victim to a nearby hospital and on our return, we saw that the explosion had occurred.

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He thanked God for causing him to leave the scene before the tragic accident.

“I could have been burnt too if I didn’t rush the victim to the hospital. I used to sleep in one of the cars now destroyed by the blast. I will thank God forever for creating a way for my escape.”

Another eyewitness, Juliet Nwokedi, who worked opposite the scene of the incident, said the body of the gas retailer was shattered by the explosion.

A source who lives close to the scene of the incident, said the workshop was once shut by the state government, but the lock was broken.

The Coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency, South-West, Ibrahim Farinloye, said 121 cylinders were recovered from the scene.

He said, “An LPG domestic retailing centre located on Ojekunle Street, Ladipo Spare Part Market, exploded and resulted in casualties. Four adults – three males and one female – were recovered dead, while a 10-year-old boy rescued alive died before getting to the hospital.

“The scene was said to have been sealed because the side of the street was dedicated as a mechanical village on which no other user was allowed. But after some time, the seal and lock were removed before the incident occurred.”

The Director-General of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Oluwafemi Oke-Osanyintolu, while speaking at the scene of the incident, said a panel would be set up to investigate the cause of the incident.

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He said, “After a rigorous and aggressive response, we put out the fire after one hour and we were able to bring out 10 injured persons, who were treated on the spot and discharged. But it is pathetic that we recovered five bodies, four males and one female. Recovery is ongoing and we are going to get to the root of the matter.”

The Chairman of the Mushin LGA, Emmanuel Bamgboye, who also visited the scene, said the council would set up a committee to investigate the incident.

The Commissioner of Police, in the State, Hakeem Odumosu, urged residents to stop receiving calls around gas depots.

He said, “This is a disaster that is completely avoidable; this is human negligence because what we heard was that the thing blew up when someone was trying to refill a gas cylinder while making a call.”

Also, an official of the Department of Petroleum Resources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “We gathered that a lady was frying early in the morning and that prompted the explosion in the gas depot.

“But what we observed was that the cylinders stacked there were not in tandem with what we use in the industry.”

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