‘Several’ killed in Nigeria gas blast: presidency

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ABUJA, Sept 11, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Several people were killed in an explosion and fire at a gas filling station in Nasarawa state, central Nigeria, the government said on Monday.

There was no immediate confirmation of the death toll after the blast at the plant in the state capital Lafia but dozens of people were also said to have suffered burns.

Television pictures showed firefighters dousing vehicles on the road after the blast, which is said to have happened as gas cylinders were being refilled.

Danjuma Bisalla, deputy head of the Nasarawa state fire prevention department, said traders alerted them to a gas leak but they were unable to stop the fumes igniting.

One onlooker told the private Channels TV that most of the injured were onlookers who refused to move.

President Muhammadu Buhari had offered his condolences to those killed, his spokesman Garba Shehu said in a statement, adding that “several” people were killed.

“The president… expressed grave concern over the high toll,” he added, without specifying a figure.

Households in Nigeria and wider West Africa rely on bottled gas for cooking but accidents caused by improper storage, refilling or lax safety procedures are commonplace.

In one incident in 2015, at least nine people were killed in a blast in the southeastern town of Nnewi as they filled cooking gas cylinders on Christmas Eve.

Ghana’s government last year promised a series of measures after a tanker carrying natural gas caught fire, triggering an explosion that killed seven and injured more than 130.

It was the ninth such incident in three years.

Proposals included a ban on LPG outlets from refilling cylinders on site, and ensuring bottling plants are away from busy commercial and residential areas.

In Lafia, witness Michael Ogbonnaya told Channels TV there had been opposition to locating the gas plant in a residential area.

“They should be on the outskirts because when an incident of such happens, it is usually monumental and you can see from all look of things that a lot of damage has been caused here,” he added.

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