17 January 2024

Three killed and dozens injured in massive blast in southern Nigerian city

17 January 2024

Three people were killed and 77 others were injured when explosives rocked more than 20 buildings in one of Nigeria’s largest cities, authorities said, as rescue workers dug through the rubble in search of people feared to be trapped.

Residents in densely populated Ibadan city, in the south-western state of Oyo, heard a loud blast on Tuesday evening, causing panic as many fled their homes.

By Wednesday morning, security forces had cordoned off the area while medical personnel and ambulances were on standby as rescue efforts intensified.

Preliminary investigations showed the blast was caused by explosives stored for use in illegal mining operations, Oyo governor Seyi Makinde told reporters after visiting the site in the Bodija area of Ibadan.

“We have already deployed first responders and all relevant agencies within Oyo state to carry out comprehensive search and rescue operations,” he said, describing the damage as “devastating”.

Rescue workers combing through the collapsed structures recovered an additional body on Wednesday morning, increasing the death toll to three, Saheed Akiode, co-ordinator of Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency in the region, told the Associated Press.

It was not immediately clear who stored the explosives, and no arrests have been announced. “The investigations are ongoing (and) all those found culpable for this will be brought to book,” Mr Makinde said.

Most of the 77 injured have already been discharged from hospital, the governor said, promising to cover the medical bills of others still being admitted and to provide temporary accommodation for people whose houses were affected.

Dozens of residents flocked to the vicinity where some of the injured were being treated in ambulances. Surrounding the area were buildings covered in dust and either completely or partially destroyed as a result of the blast, which left a massive crater.

Illegal mining in mineral-rich Nigeria is common and has been a major concern for authorities. However, it is mostly done in remote areas where arrests are difficult and where safety procedures are rarely followed.

The use of explosives such as dynamite by miners close to residential areas is also common and poses health hazards to residents, according to Anthony Adejuwon, who leads the Urban Alert group which advocates for accountability in the mining industry.

He said explosive materials should be kept far away from where people live, but that “the use of these explosives is not controlled and because they are not controlled, anybody that has easy access can keep it anywhere”.

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