LAGOS, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- Nigeria's police in southwest Lagos State on Saturday said up to 30 persons, suspected to be fuel vandals died in a pipeline fire at Arepo village in neighboring Ogun State.
Friday Ibadin, the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) in- charge of the Special Task Force on Anti-Pipeline Vandalism, told reporters in Lagos, the country's commercial hub that an explosion was heard at about 2 a.m, local time.
He said the fire was caused by suspected vandals, who allegedly ferried across to the creeks to siphon petroleum products from a ruptured state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipeline.
The police chief said fire fighters were still trying to contain the fire.
He gave an assurance that the police would provide adequate security in the area. He said security agencies were on the trail of other vandal survivors, who fled the scene of the incident. According to Ibadin, one of the suspects arrested told the police that many of his mates were killed in the explosion, while others injured might still be alive and dying in the creeks.
A survivor was quoted as saying that more than 50 persons were involved in carrying out the vandal.
The police said the suspect's told his men that about 30 people were feared to be burnt to death, while many were injured while scooping fuel from a pipeline in the early hours of the day.
Stealing fuel from oil pipeline is very common in Nigeria, Africa's leading oil producer. But mismanagement and corruption has his the refining sector, causing chronic fuel shortages.
The past few years have witnessed a string of pipeline explosions, with each killing at least dozens of people.
Nearly 300 people were burnt to death in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos on Dec. 26, 2006, as they scooped fuel from a vandalized pipeline.