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Nigerians Collect Bodies, Bury Dead After  Pipeline Blast


Nigerians are giving mass burials to as many as 200 people killed in a pipeline explosion.

Rescue workers were still uncovering charred bodies Saturday, several kilometers away from the site of the massive blast near the commercial capital, Lagos.

Authorities say vandals were siphoning oil from the pipeline in the waterside village of Ilado Friday when a spark triggered the blast. They say flames quickly ignited hundreds of oil cans nearby.

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo ordered a full investigation into the blast Saturday, and also ordered police to increase security near oil pipelines.

The Lagos police commissioner, Emmanuel Adebayo, estimates that between 150 and 200 people were killed, their bodies burned beyond recognition. Authorities are burying the victims in mass graves to prevent contamination.

Theft of gasoline and crude oil from pipelines is common in Nigeria, where the vast majority of people live in poverty despite the nation's oil wealth.

A Lagos-based journalist, Paul Okolo, tells VOA it is common for people to siphon fuel from burst or tapped pipes.

In one of the worst oil pipeline explosions in the country, more than one thousand people were killed in 1998 in the southern Delta region.

Some information for this report AP, AFP and Reuters.

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