Over 180 students of God’s Banner School at 16 Adeolu Street in the Ladipo area of Lagos State on Tuesday escaped unhurt when a gas explosion rocked a mechanic shop at the back of the school.
Our correspondent who was at the scene observed that while the expansive mechanic shop was located at number 35 and 37 of Ojekunle Street, the school which was well-fenced, directly backed the explosion site on Adeolu Street.
The PUNCH learnt that over 180 students including primary and secondary school students were hurriedly dispersed when the explosion hit the back of the school at the mechanic end on Tuesday.
Our correspondent, who visited the school, observed that it was deserted around 1pm on Tuesday.
An official of the school who chose to remain anonymous told our correspondent that the management immediately dispersed the students when the explosion happened on Tuesday morning.
The male official said the explosion occurred just after the students ended their habitual morning assembly and had settled in their various classes.
“The gas explosion happened all of a sudden at the back of the school but fortunately we have no child injured and all parents safely took their children. We have about 180 students,” the official stated in an interview with our correspondent at the school on Tuesday.
Where the gas explosion happened wasn’t part of the (school) building; it is the other side. It does not affect the school,” he explained.
The male official also explained that parents hurriedly rushed to the school a few minutes after they had handed over their kids to the school management.
Asked whether an explosion had happened before in the area, the official said the school has been in existence for over a decade and no explosion had occurred in the past.
He said the school management would decide when to reopen the facility for academic activities but said the safety of the students remains a priority.
“The management has made a decision to let the students stay at home for tomorrow and for as long as the environment is conducive,” he added.
Over five persons were burnt to death in the mechanic workshop where the explosion occurred around 8am on Tuesday.
The Director-General of the Lagos State Safety Commission, Lanre Mojola, confirmed to The PUNCH at the scene that five lives were lost as a result of the explosion.
He, however, declined comments on the number of injured persons.
Director General of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, also confirmed the death of the five persons.
He also said the remains of the deceased had been bagged and handed over to their families.
Scores of gas cylinders were also evacuated from the premises while over 10 vehicles in the mechanics’ premises were shattered and destroyed by the impact of the blast.
The incident, it was gathered, happened, when a gas retailer known as Sodiq was dispensing gas to a customer. A phone call was reported to have been received which triggered the explosion. Also, the fire from the shop of a woman known as Mama Emma who was frying puff-puff on the premises reportedly also contributed to the explosion.
Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, who was at the scene with his men, said the incident was totally avoidable.
“It was totally avoidable. Someone dispensing gas and also taking a phone call caused this. That is the cause of all of this,” he told newsmen.
Meanwhile, the explosion paralysed business activities on the ever-busy Ojekunle Street and hundreds of shops were closed as security operatives and emergency responders cordoned off the area for rescue efforts.
“Once the place is okay for human activities, the whole place would be opened. I cannot say if it will be in the next one hour, two hours, or three hours; it is for the experts to do that,” Odumosu said.