• My neighbour’s call five shops away save my live – survivor
• We picked body parts scattered around several streets – eyewitnesses
• Explosion caused by panel beater’s cabad cylinder – NEMA
For residents around Isolo, Ejigbo, Oshodi and some parts of Mushin, the shattering bang that followed a gas explosion on Tuesday evening was reminiscent of the January 27, 2002 bomb blasts that rocked the Ikeja cantonment; only difference was Tuesday’s boom was once.
By the time terrified residents came outside, only a thick smoke wafting into the sky could quell their curiosity. After the dust had settled on the spot, the bodies of about five persons had been splattered around a gas retail shop at Inua Muhammed Street, Ajao Estate, Isolo at about 7:00p.m.
Empire Gist gathered that the 62-year-old shop owner, Mrs. Adeyanju, popularly known as Iya Ibukun; her 32-year-old daughter, Funke; a tailor, Victor, whose shop was next to hers; the customer who came to fill his gas, Bamidele, aka Alfa; and an unidentified customer whose phone was found by responders, all died in the explosion while two cars, one tricycle, shops and surrounding buildings were not spared.
One of the survivors, Abayomi Okeshola, a barber, told The Guardian that when he was inside his shop at the scene, a guy named Tope, who owns a boutique nearby, sent someone to call him. “When the person got here, I asked him why Tope was calling me? The response was that Tope just wanted to see me and he was about leaving his shop. While going to the boutique, I saw a man coming with a tricycle, who wanted to refill his gas.
“The gas woman was already leaving for home, but when the guy came, she instructed her daughter, Funke to reopen the shop for her customer. When the shop was reopened, the man took the gas cylinder inside the shop for refilling. The next thing I heard was the explosion. I was inside the boutique when the explosion happened. The boutique was five shops away from her shop. The woman, her daughter, the tailor whose shop is next to mine, Victor, and the two guys that came to buy gas all died in the explosion,” he said.
Another survivor, Emmanuel Saviour, said an oxygen gas used for panel beating and welding sold by Iya Ibukun caused the incident. “It occurred few minutes to 7p.m. The woman has already closed for the day and I had greeted her goodnight. I never knew it was goodbye.
“A customer named Bamidele, aka Alfa, came to fill gas. She and the Alfa were in a haste. The customer was rushing and she also was in a hurry to go home. She was already in her vehicle when her daughter came down from the car to open the shop in order to attend to the customer. I had not got far from the shop when the explosion occurred and affected my head a little.
“Even Victor, the tailor, whose shop is next to the gas shop, was through for the day. He only stayed back to iron the clothes he sewed after light was restored before the gas went off and unfortunately died in the explosion.”
Other lucky survivors of the explosion were Iya-Ibukun’s driver, and the tricycle operator. While the driver had gone to purchase a park of cigarette, the rider had gone to see his friend who sells boiled noodles down the same street. Also, a resident who was driving a Kia car across the road at the time of the blast survived but suffered burns.
It was gathered that Funke was planning on getting married while her mother would have travelled to the United States to check up with her son, but for the outbreak of COVID-19, which led to the closure of the airports.
Mangled and burnt body of Iya Ibukun was seen in a sitting posture in her car while body parts of the other victims scattered with the rubbles of the explosion. Some body parts were picked up from streets close to the scene.
An eyewitness explained that while trying to rescue the victims, they could not be recognised. One said it was the hair that made them recognised Funke’s body.
One of the responders at the scene said: “The part I saw here belongs to Alfa, while we got one of his arms on Asa Afariogun Street at the front of a shop. Meanwhile, Alfa sat down inside with daughter of the gas shop owner before the explosion.”
Some of the passersby who were injured were rushed to Good Seed Hospital at Salami Street, Ajao Estate, while about four responders who came to douse the fire but got burnt were treated at Faith City Hospital, at Asa Afariogun, adjacent the scene.
The chairman, Liquefied Petroleum Gas Retailers, a branch of NUPENG, Lagos chapter, David Okenwa, blamed the explosion on negligence by retailers selling industrial gas alongside engine oil. He said: “When I got there, I saw spills of engine oil, which is a proof that she likely combined engine oil and gas for retail business, which is very wrong. Oxygen does not ignite fire. It is the oxyacetylene flame also known as cabad that ignites fire. People who sell oxygen for welding usually sell cabad. It is the cabad that generates the fire. Oxygen on its own cannot catch fire.
“The government should try as much as possible to ensure that anyone who deals in gas business should not transfer oxygen gas into another oxygen gas. It is very dangerous because it is over pressurised. The transfer of gas from one cylinder into another is usually the cause of gas explosion.”
Meanwhile, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has said the explosion was caused by a panel beater’s cylinder when he was trying to put cabad in the cylinder. Ibrahim Farinloye, the acting coordinator for NEMA, said: “The explosion occurred while the technician was trying to up his oxycytelene flame popularly known as cabad. The incident led to the death of three persons and rescue of two.”
The Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) said the explosion was from a gas cylinder used in filling outdoor air conditioner of a split unit.