Nigerian authorities say a pipeline explosion and fire killed at least 40 people Tuesday (Christmas day) in the south of the country.

Authorities Wednesday said the blast occurred in a village in the southwestern state of Lagos. They said villagers were trying to scoop fuel from a ruptured pipeline that had been vandalized when the fuel caught fire.

Oil explosions are frequent in Nigeria, Africa's top exporter of crude oil. Last December, fire on a gasoline pipeline in another area of Lagos killed at least 269 people. Many of the victims were said to be siphoning fuel from the vandalized pipeline.

Another 150 people were killed in a similar explosion last May.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.