A massive explosion rocked more than a dozen buildings in Ibadan, Nigeria’s third-most populous city, on Tuesday night, killing at least two people and injuring 77 others. Rescue workers are digging through the rubble in search of those feared trapped.
The blast occurred at about 7:45 p.m. in the Bodija area of Ibadan, causing panic as many residents fled their homes. Preliminary investigations suggest that the explosion was caused by explosives stored for use in illegal mining operations, Oyo Gov. Seyi Makinde told reporters. “We have already deployed first responders and all relevant agencies within Oyo state to carry out comprehensive search and rescue operations,” Makinde said, describing the damage as “devastating.”
Illegal mining is common in mineral-rich Nigeria, but it is mostly done in remote areas where arrests are difficult and safety procedures are rarely followed. It was not immediately clear who stored the explosives, and no arrest has been announced. “The investigations are ongoing (and) all those found culpable for this will be brought to book,” Gov. Makinde said. Most of the 77 injured were already discharged, the governor said, promising to cover the medical bills of others still being admitted and to provide temporary accommodation for those whose houses were affected. Rescue and recovery efforts are ongoing in seven suburbs of Ibadan.
The cause of the blast is still unclear, but the authorities suspect that it may have been triggered by mining explosives stored in a house. Photos show buildings reduced to near rubble and vehicles destroyed by shells.
Dramatic videos have been shared on social media, with one witness describing a mall being destroyed in Bodija, a residential district of the city. “We hear a loud bang around 07:30pm. Dominoes Pizza and Ace Mall in Bodija were destroyed,” he said.
Police have promised a swift inquiry into the explosion. “Preliminary investigations by the security agencies revealed that illegal miners occupying one of the houses in Bodija had stored explosive devices there which caused the blast,” the regional governor Seyi Makinde said. The government has vowed to crack down on illegal mining operations, but it remains to be seen whether this will be enough to prevent future tragedies.