Fuel depot explodes at port in Nigeria's Lagos, four hurt

LAGOS Wed Jan 9, 2013 10:56am EST

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LAGOS (Reuters) - A fuel depot exploded at the port in Nigeria's commercial hub of Lagos on Wednesday, causing a large fire that belched black smoke and slightly injured four people, emergency services said.

A Reuters TV crew attempting to get access to the site on Tin Can Island were turned away by police. Fire engines rushed in and out of the site, sirens wailing.

Iyiola Akande, a local spokesman for National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), said at the scene of the fire that private importer MRS Oil owned the depot. No one at MRS was immediately available for comment.

MRS's website says its headquarters are on Tin Can Island.

"It was at the fuel tank farm, where fuel is put on and off vessels to be taken inland," Akande said.

"The fire was not on a vessel, it was in the tank farm," he said. The fire was nearly out and four people were receiving treatment for wounds he described as "not serious", he said.

Fuel fire accidents are common in Nigeria, a country of 160 million people that despite being Africa's top oil producer has to import most of its fuel because its refineries are decrepit.

In July, at least 95 people were killed when a petrol tanker crashed and caught fire.

Wednesday's accident came a day after a fire burned through a poor suburb of Lagos, destroying hundreds of homes and fanned by swirling winds.

Fires are common in Nigeria where kerosene is used on basic cooking stoves and diesel powers electricity generators in homes and in workplaces. (Reporting by Joe Brock and Angela Ukomadu; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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