From: Dulue Mbachu, Associated Press
Published October 13, 2005 12:00 AM

Nigeria Shuts Lagos Schools after Unexplained Fumes Sweep City

LAGOS, Nigeria — Authorities ordered all schools in Nigeria's biggest city closed Wednesday after a dark cloud of unexplained fumes swept in.


Lagos Governor Bola Tinubu ordered the closure of all primary and secondary schools in Lagos, a city of 14 million, and launched an investigation to determine the cause of what a government statement called a "high concentration of gas in the air."


Residents began reporting unusual clouds of smoke in the city's northern reaches, wafting southwards about 10:00 local time (9:00GMT). It was not known what caused the cloud to form, but most of it had cleared away by the afternoon.


In the morning as fumes descended on the city, visibility fell drastically and motorists drove with the headlights on. Police said there were reports of widespread eye and respiratory irritation but no deaths.


"I looked in all directions and there was this ugly cloud all around us, and we thought we would choke," said 35-year-old Okwui Achor, who was driving in a car with two of her children. "Luckily, we only felt some tingling in the eyes and throat."


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Bode Ojajuni, Lagos state police spokesman, said earlier reports that the fumes came from a burning, ruptured fuel pipeline in the outskirts of the city proved untrue.


"We have confirmed it is not a pipeline. We're still investigating," he said.


The head of the Lagos Environmental Protection Agency, Bisi Adesina, told reporters air samples had been obtained by the agency as part of the investigation. "We will analyze the sample to determine its implication," Adesina said.


Source: Associated Press


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