Pulse visited Abule-Ado after tragic explosion, here’s what we learnt

Pulse visited Abule-Ado in Amuwo Odofin Local Government area of Lagos, after Sunday explosion. [Pulse]

Ayomide said he was in their family apartment alongside his brother and their children on Sunday, March 15, 2020, when the incident happened.

The father of two told Pulse that a call from his brother’s wife was what rescued the entire family from being part of the casualties of the horrible incident.

He said, “I was with my brother and our children when his wife who intended to go out called us to come and move some vehicles downstairs so we can pave way for hers.

“To our greatest surprise, when we came outside, we saw a loud smoke. This informed us immediately of the tragedy that was about to happen. On realising this, we left our vehicles and immediately embarked on rescuing our children and alerting our neighbours.”

Similarly, Chinedu, a man in his 20s, would have been part of the casualties alongside his nephew, but was lucky enough to have perceived an unusual smell that lured him out of his apartment when the gas flaring that resulted to the explosion started.

He said, "I came out of my balcony and I started perceiving a strange smell. The smell was strange and very strong at the same time. I thought it was my generator that was leaking, I checked and it wasn’t.

"Then, I looked outside, that was when I saw a white smoke which made me take to my heels alongside my nephew."

Chinedu's and Ayomide's stories are similar to that of other survivors of the explosion which claimed at least 20 lives, and at the same time, rendered hundreds of people homeless.

When Pulse visited the incident scene on Tuesday, March 16, our team observed that over 80 buildings have gone down as a result of the explosion.

Hundreds of security agents, including policemen, Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC), Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), amongst others, were on ground manning the area.

Emergency officials were also spotted at the scene, searching for casualties to evacuate, as corpses are believed to still be trapped in some sections of the affected scene.

While quite a number of excavators were expected to be seen at the scene due to the magnitude of the explosion, it was only one that was spotted aiding in the search for casualties.

In a chat with Emeka Ogbu, the Maintenance Officer of Bethlehem High School, Pulse learnt that none of the students of the school, which collapsed due to the explosion, died in the incident.

Ogbu said although the school lost seven of its staff members, including the principal, the students are safe or hospitalised with minor injuries.

He added that before the arrival of security men in the area, some hoodlums took advantage of the incident as they took to looting the school.

Ogbu said, "I wasn’t around when this incident happened, but when I got here yesterday, I saw people rescuing my children, so I had to assist them in the rescue.

"What we are doing now is to secure our properties because many people got in and engaged in looting. Although, the students are safe, none of them died in the incident, but we lost 7 staff members of the school."

Hundreds of businesses in the area were locked during Pulse's visit, a consequence of the explosion.

A food vendor who spoke to Pulse lamented that the incident has crippled many businesses.

"A lot of businesses have been destroyed. Some of my colleagues have lost their goods to the incident, with no hope of recovering. I can't even open my shop today because it will be very unfair of me," she said.

An automobile technician in the area, Kazeem Lere, said he has been thrown into serious debt, as all the cars in his care for fixing are now damaged beyond repair.

With tears in his eyes, he said, "What do you want me to tell my customers? This is a debt I am not sure I can ever recover from. I have some cars parked in my workshop, only for me to come this morning and meet everything severely damaged."

Despite a claim by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) that the explosion was due to too much gas pressure from the gas pipelines in the area, many of Abule Ado residents told Pulse that the explosion was a bomb attack.

A resident of the area, Isiah Njoku, said, "I’m honestly still dumbfounded. I heard about this incident yesterday morning. There have been series of stories regarding the cause of this incident. Some said it is bomb, while some said it is gas explosion. But from what I’m seeing here today, all I can see is bomb blast. There is nothing like gas explosion as the government as claimed."

He continued, "This is a mechanic village of this area. Any kind of vehicle you can think of in this country was here prior to the incident, and now they are all chartered, none of them got burnt, so don’t tell me this isn’t bomb."

Another resident of Abule-Ado, Chiamaka, said "Petrol cannot fall this kind of pillar. Look at it, this is purely bomb explosion. The government has refused to tell us the truth, they don’t want to accept defeat. How can this be pipeline explosion, take a look at the far distance the pipeline is and the buildings affected all round. If you get to the pipeline site, you wouldn’t know if something of such even happened."

"This is actually not a gas explosion. Look at the affected area, I mean the whole buildings that fell. If this is a gas explosion as claimed, can you imagine the dent it would have made on the surface? This is a sophisticated bomb. I don’t think the government responded well, because they don’t want to accept defeat," a resident of the area who doesn't want his name mentioned stated.

While others believed the incident was a bomb explosion, Chinedu said he is confident that it was gas explosion.

"I witnessed the gas flaring, so I know what I'm talking about. This is not bomb as many people are claiming. This is a gas explosion," he insisted.

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