Here is the first word from the Associated Press:
LAGOS (AP)--A ruptured pipeline exploded Friday as Nigerian villagers rushed to collect oil gushing from it and "quite a number of people" have perished in the flames, the Nigerian Red Cross said Friday.
Firefighters were on the scene of the explosion at Ilado village about 45 kilometers east of Nigeria's main city of Lagos and Red Cross workers there are helping survivors. "There was a big fire and quite a number of people died," said Okon Umoh, a Red Cross Spokeswoman.
More information will be provided here as it becomes available.
This was the first word from CNN in a Breaking News bulletin to subscribers at 9:40am EDT:
Explosion reported near oil pipeline on outskirts of Lagos, Nigeria, the Nigerian Red Cross tells CNN. There are conflicting reports on casualties.
Here's the latest:
200 Feared Dead in Nigeria Oil Blast
Friday May 12, 9:44 am ET
Oil Pipeline Explodes in Nigeria and Up to 200 Are Feared Dead
LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) -- A ruptured pipeline exploded Friday in southwestern Nigeria as villagers rushed to collect oil gushing from it and a local TV station said up to 200 people were feared dead.
Firefighters were on the scene of the explosion at Ilado, a village about 25 miles east of Nigeria's main city of Lagos, and Red Cross workers were helping survivors.
"There was a big fire and quite a number of people died," Red Cross spokeswoman Okon Umoh said without elaborating.
The blast came as villagers flocked to the ruptured conduit to scoop up fuel that was gushing out. Up to 200 may have perished in the explosion, according to Nigeria's Channels Television.
Nigeria is Africa's leading oil producer, the world's seventh-biggest exporter and fifth-biggest source of U.S. oil imports.
Thieves often steal heavily subsidized fuel from pipelines for personal use or to sell across borders where prices are higher.
In 1998, more than 1,000 villagers died when a ruptured gasoline pipeline exploded as they scavenged fuel.
Nigerian violence has been behind much of the recent rise in gasoline and oil prices. More than 600,000 barrels of oil per day were "locked in" due to violence as recently as two weeks ago, but authorities had been able to restore much of that flow. An oil worker was shot dead two days ago in what appeared to be a planned assassination.
The new blast may again focus investor attention on Gulf of Guinea projects that are far from the reach of pipeline thieves, vandals and the Ijaw tribe's coastal guerillas known as MEND (Movement for Emancipation of the Niger Delta).
Those include the recently aswarded Blocks 2, 3 and 4 of the Nigeria-Sao Tome and Principe Joint Development Zone in which ERHC Energy has a major position, along with Anadarko Petroleum (in Block 3), Addax Petroleum and Sinopec (the latter in Block 2 and Addax in Blocks 3 and 4.