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Health Teams Search for Survivors of Nigerian Pipeline Explosion

Health teams are combing a Lagos neighborhood Wednesday in search of survivors of Tuesday's pipeline explosion who need urgent treatment. For VOA, Gilbert da Costa reports that several bodies were buried late Tuesday.

Casualty figures from Tuesday's explosion range from 200 to about 1,000. Survivors with severe burns are being treated at government-owned hospitals.

However, some of those injured in the blast are believed to have gone into hiding to avoid arrest. Others may not have gone to hospital because they lack the money to pay for treatment.

Umar Mairiga, head of disaster management with the Red Cross, says volunteers are searching for survivors in hiding and cleaning up the explosion site.

"We are trying to disinfect the place and we've sent out our volunteers to see if they can fish out some people who are still hiding, so we can take them to the hospital," said Mairiga. "And then we are also asking relatives of those people affected to come forward and register their names, so that we try to see if they are dead or in any of the hospitals."

Eye witnesses say the charred bodies of the victims have been removed, but remains still littered the area.

Presidential spokeswoman Remi Oyo, says Nigerians should resolve to put an end to pipelines break-ins.

"The government cannot alone secure the whole territory of Nigeria and that is why those of us who are law-abiding citizens should help in ensuring that once we see these kinds of things, we report them. We do not wait until when the pipelines have been vandalized before we report as in the case of what happened in Ebule Egba," said Oyo. "I believe that we all must rise up and say never again will we allow these kinds of things to our citizenry."

The fire started Tuesday morning when local residents arrived with jerry cans to help themselves to small quantities of gasoline.

The pipelines reportedly ruptured by thieves subsequently exploded into an inferno.

More than 2,000 people have been killed in oil pipelines explosions in Nigeria in the last few years.