2002 Lagos armoury explosion

The Lagos armoury explosion was the accidental detonation of a large stock of military high explosives at a storage facility in the city of Lagos, Nigeria, on 27 January 2002. The fires created by the debris from this explosion burnt down a large section of Northern Lagos, and created a panic that spread to other areas. As people fled the flames, many stumbled into a concealed canal and drowned. The explosion and its aftermath are believed to have killed at least 1,100 people and displaced over 20,000, with many thousands injured or homeless. The government of Nigeria launched an enquiry, which blamed the Nigerian Army for failing to properly maintain the base, or to decommission it when instructed to do so in 2001.

Explosion

The Ikeja military cantonment was a large military cantonment and storage area in the city of Lagos, situated north of the city centre near the districts of Isolo and Onigbongo. [1] In January 2002, the base was being used to store a large quantity of "high calibre bombs", as well as other sundry explosives. [2] On the afternoon of 27 January, a fire broke out in a street market being held next to the base, which was also home to the families of soldiers. [1] At around 18:00 the fire apparently spread to the base's main munitions store, causing an enormous explosion. This blast killed many of the base staff and their families and immediately destroyed several nearby streets, flying debris starting numerous fires further afield. Tremors from the explosion also collapsed many buildings in the area, [3] trapping people in the ruins and starting new fires from damaged cooking appliances. These tremors were so powerful that windows shattered 15 km away and the blast could be felt more than 50 km inland.

Also thrown up by the blast were thousands of as yet unexploded military munitions, which fell in a rain of exploding shells, grenades and bullets casting further destruction across most of the northern section of the city. Thousands of people from Ikeja and neighbouring districts, seeing explosions and fires breaking out, fled their houses in an attempt to leave the affected areas. [4] As the streets became more and more crowded, explosions amid the fleeing crowds from shells falling from the initial explosion created panic. A stampede developed as panicking people fled in all directions, trampling those who fell underfoot. Reports also describe people jumping from burning high-rise buildings and being killed in desperate attempts to cross the busy Ikeja dual carriageway. [3]

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