The explosion in the Amuwo Odofin area of Lagos was heard several kilometers (miles) away. It destroyed more than 50 buildings, which either collapsed or caught fire, in three different neighborhoods, according to Ibrahim Farinloye, the spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency.
Fires were spreading to nearby oil pipelines, so there were fears of more damage or explosions. The death toll was expected to rise because residents said some people remained trapped in collapsed buildings.
“Fifteen bodies have been recovered, including a whole family of four who were heading to church before they were cut short in the explosion," Farinloye said. At least two people have also been rescued alive, he said. One building is a school where injured children have been pulled from the rubble, some covered in blood.
Nigerian officials were not yet able to identify the cause of the massive explosion. A naval base is located nearby. Linda Uche, a resident, told The Associated Press the sound of the explosion and the extent of the damage was far more serious than a usual oil pipeline explosion, which happens not infrequently.
It was the most serious explosion in Lagos since January 2002, when bombs from a military armory exploded, killing more than 1,000 people.