Cablegate: Explosion in Lagos

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Sensitive But Unclassified.

2. At approximately 1110 on Sunday, February 2, 2003, there
was an explosion in Idumagbo Street, located between the
Carter Bridge and Third Mainland Bridge on Lagos Island. The
area is a lage market and residential area comprised of two
and three story business and residential buildings.

3. No official Americans live on Lagos Island and no FSN
staff have been identified as living in this area of Lagos.
The closest USG facility to the area of the explosion is the
Consulate's Public Affairs Section which is located on the
opposite end of the island about four miles away. Three
buildings reportedly collapsed as a result of the explosion
and several others are severely damaged. Julius Berger
Construction Company was asked to assist with rescue
operations. As of 1600 hours local on 3 February, there are
no known American casualties among the twenty-eight confirmed
dead, and up to fifty injured.

4. Immediately following the explosion "area boys" and
others began looting a bank that was either at ground zero or
near the point of detonation. It took police several hours
to contain the looting. Police have reportedly cordoned off
the area.

5. Local Guard Force REACT vehicles were sent to the area to
ascertain the cause of the explosion. There are no confirmed
reports of how the explosion occurred.

6. Speculative reports point to several possible causes of
the explosion. Initial reports indicated that either
political motives, an attempt to hide problems at the bank,
or a bank robbery gone bad were behind the blast. The police
bomb squad continues to investigate, but offered RSO the
possibility that some repairmen caused the explosion while
drilling a hole and hitting some electrical wires connected
to a water heater. Other reports indicate there may have
been a bomb or a collection of gas cylinders that exploded.
Immediately after the blast, the Lagos State Governor's
office told CG that a gas cylinder in an area of poorly
constructed buildings could have been responsible for the
total collapse of one building and severe damage to others.
The police are not expected to have conclusive evidence of
the cause for at least several days.

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