Wednesday 9 January 2013
Five killed, as explosion rocks ship, MRS tank farm in Lagos
Five persons were feared killed and scores injured on Wednesday when an oil barge discharging petrol at the MRS Oil and Gas tank farm jetty exploded within the Tin Can Island Port, Apapa, Lagos.
Pandemonium immediately ensued, as thick smoke from the inferno billowed into the sky.
Business activities in the neighborhood were brought to a halt when the barge exploded, shattering glass doors and windows of buildings around the vicinity and causing people within two kilometers radius to scamper for cover, as the sounds reverberated up to Wharf Road and Olodi in Apapa.
The administrative building of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ports and Cargo complex, and a branch of First Bank not far from the explosion scene were also affected.
It was gathered that the incident occurred because the vessel offloading product, premium motor spirit (PMS), into MRS tank farm was improperly handled.
The barge and the jetty were badly damaged by the fire.
Confirming the casualty figure at the scene of the incident, an official of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Ibrahim Farinde, said those that were injured are now receiving treatment at an undisclosed hospital.
Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Port Authority Police (PAP) Command, Godday Ihende, said he was awaiting signal from the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of the Tin Can area.
“I heard it the way you heard, but I am waiting for official statement from DPO in charge of that jurisdiction,” Ihende told Daily Independent.
An eyewitness said he saw at least five lifeless bodies wrapped in white clothes and taken away to an unknown place before he was asked to leave the premises.
Officials of MRS were not in the right frame of mind to comment even as security operatives littered the area, barring newsmen from entering the facility for security reasons.
Officials of NEMA, fire-fighting vehicles belonging to Integrated Oil Services and the Lagos State Fire Service were seen at the scene of the explosion.
An NPA source confirmed that it was a barge and not a ship that exploded, but said further details were yet to be received.
He argued that it was a tugboat belonging to NPA, which was domiciled at a finger jetty near the MRS jetty that helped to put out the fire.
He, however, hinted that there were certain safety precautions that were not observed by the MRS workers who offloaded the product from the barge.
Public Relations Officer of the PTML Command of the Nigerian Customs Service, Steve Okonma, said there was serious pandemonium everywhere and that they all had to evacuate their office premises.
As a result of the explosion loading of fuel suffered a setback in Lagos on Wednesday.
The explosion led all fuel depots in Apapa to immediately halt fuel loading as a safety measure.
Another report from Oyo State on Wednesday said the town of Oyo Alaafin was thrown into mourning as the ancient palace of the First Class monarch, Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, was gutted by fire.
The early morning inferno, said to have been caused by an electrical surge, razed 21 rooms in the sprawling palace.
Three apartments belonging to three of the Alaafin’s wives were affected by the fire.
The affected wives are Folasade (Iyaa Meta), Rukayat and Abibat.
They were said to have been badly hit, as they lost virtually all their valuables to the disaster.
It was gathered that some apartments housing artifacts, including the ‘Ile Ori’, ‘Ile Ifa’, were also burnt by the inferno.
Media aide to the Alaafin, Azeez Fehintola, described the damage done to the palace as enormous, saying “the extent of damage by the fire goes beyond my imagination.
‘’Immediately I got here and saw the extent of the damage done to the palace by this early morning conflagration, I could not but break down into tears.
“The fire, which broke out from electrical surge, started around 6.00 a.m. and was contained after about three hours.
“The fire-fighters came at some minutes past seven and battled it till it was finally put out. Every part of the affected apartments were completely razed. It was a really sad day for the ‘ayabas’ (oba’s wives) because many of their property were destroyed,’’ Fehintola lamented.