A pipeline explosion on Sunday killed at least 15 people and destroyed about 50 buildings after a fire broke out in a suburb of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, emergency services said.

Iran Press/Africa: Several people were injured and taken to hospital, according to Ibrahim Farinloye, zonal coordinator for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

Plumes of smoke billowed into the air as people watched, while firefighters tried to quench the flames, a Reuters witness said.

Farinloye said some of the buildings collapsed while many roof-tops were blown up. He said the cause of the explosion was not known.

“We cannot actually say immediately what caused it. There was fire on the pipeline,” Farinloye told Reuters. “The explosion destroyed over 50 residential houses.”

Pipeline fires in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest crude oil producer, are common and they are mostly caused by theft and sabotage. The methods used to steal oil often result in accidents that cause fires.

“The fire started with smoke,” one eyewitness said. The smoke was coming up and later we heard a sound ... and some houses collapsed even the roofs.”

It was not immediately clear what, if any, impact the pipeline fire would have on the operations of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

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