'Hell was raining down': Fire kills 100 in Nigeria

From Times Wire Services

Flames from a burst fuel pipeline swept through homes and a school Thursday, killing about 100 people and injuring about 20 in a village on this city's distant outskirts, a Red Cross official said.

"It was like hell was raining down on us, then everybody started running in different directions," resident John Egbowon said.

Road construction machinery pierced the pipe carrying refined fuel, said Nigerian Red Cross disaster coordinator Suleman Maikubi.

Many children fled the school before it was engulfed in flames. Maikubi said it was unclear how many children had died. Pipeline fires are common in Nigeria. More than 400 people died in two similar pipeline explosions in Lagos in 2006 and at least 40 died in December.

Authorities frequently blame the disasters on criminal gangs who break into the pipelines to siphon fuel for sale, attracting crowds of people who come in their wake to scavenge for more fuel. The spark for the flames is never identified.

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