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Deadly Explosion Kills Hundreds in Nigeria

Hundreds of people were killed Tuesday when an oil pipeline exploded in Nigeria's largest city, Lagos. For VOA, Gilbert da Costa reports that the incident is the latest in a series of pipeline-related explosions in oil-rich Nigeria.

While official numbers have not yet been released, it is estimated that the death toll is in the hundreds. Andronicus Adeyemo, a senior Red Cross disaster officer who is involved in search and rescue operations at the site of explosion, described the incident as a monumental loss.

"You see carcasses [corpses] littered everywhere here and it's just unfortunate, it's unfortunate. We are not talking about saving lives but removing carcasses of people," Adeyemo said.

Red Cross officials say the victims were apparently scooping fuel from the pipeline after thieves punctured it overnight. Nigerians often tap into pipelines carrying gasoline, scooping the product in buckets or plastic bags to sell.

Several people have been killed in the last few years as a result of pipeline explosions. In May, more than 150 people died in a pipeline blast in Lagos.

Tuesday's incident happened in Abule Egba, in the northern part of the city.

Security forces have cordoned off the area and residents have been advised to leave until the area is declared safe for them to return.

Long lines of vehicles have formed at petrol stations across Nigeria as the West African nation, a major oil producer, struggles with an acute shortage.