The widespread explosion that hit Ibadan, the capital city of Oyo State, on Tuesday, January 16 has left authorities grappling with uncertainty over its cause and casualties.
The fire outbreak which began at about 7:30 PM affected several buildings in Old Bodija, University of Ibadan, and other areas near the explosion site.
Swift responses from the state government, police, and the emergency agency said investigation was under-way to unravel the cause and ascertain the number of casualties.
In a post on X, the Oyo State Police Command stated, “The cause of the explosion is unknown. Number of Dead and Injured yet unknown as search continues. Ample deployment on ground. Updates coming up soon.”
Meanwhile, the state government assured residents that relevant agencies are conducting search and rescue operations at the scene.
The Zonal Coordinator for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in the South-West, Saheed Akiode, told Channels Television in a phone conversation that emergency responders, including the operatives of the Fire Service in Oyo State, have been deployed to the scene.
He said the agency was working with other stakeholders to assess the situation and provide relief to the affected people.
There have been several videos circulating on social media, showing the extent of damage caused by the blast in locations believed to be close to the explosion site.
There were also videos online that showed a dusty cloud, with many residents running for safety.
Some witnesses described the sound of the explosion as deafening and terrifying.
“I was in my room when I heard a loud bang. I thought it was a bomb. I ran out of the house and saw smoke everywhere. People were screaming and running. It was like a war zone,” said Adebayo Oluwaseun, a resident of Old Bodija.
Another witness, who identified herself as Funke, said she was on her way home from work when the explosion happened.
“I was in a bus when I saw a bright flash and heard a loud noise. The bus driver stopped and we all came down. We saw people running and crying. Some cars were damaged by the blast. I don’t know what caused it, but it was very scary,” she said.
While the extent of the casualties has not been confirmed, some popular medical practitioners on X have announced the need for medical personnel and blood in Adeyi Avenue, Bodija.
One of the users, The_Bearded_Sina, who is a medical doctor, wrote, “Please Retweet if you see this. If you are a Medical personnel in Ibadan & close by. Please our help & assistance is needed at Adeyi Avenue, Bodija. There are serious casualties there. Please help share.”
The explosion in Ibadan is the latest in a series of blasts that have rocked different parts of the country in recent times.
In December 2023, a gas explosion killed at least 10 people and injured many others in Agbor, Delta State.
In November 2023, a tanker explosion claimed the lives of at least 12 people and destroyed several vehicles and properties in Lokoja, Kogi State.
In October 2023, a pipeline explosion killed at least 30 people and injured dozens more in Abule Ado, Lagos State.
The frequent occurrence of these explosions has raised concerns over the safety and security of the citizens and the infrastructure in the country.