At about 5 p.m. on Jan. 27, 2002, an explosion rang from the Military Cantonment in Ikeja, the capital of Lagos, the effect akin to that of an earthquake. Bombs and other explosive items had mistakenly been set off in the armoury section of the barracks.
The explosion was heard and felt 30 miles away and the tremors collapsed homes and broke windows as many as 10 miles away.
The Red Cross claims that at least 1,000 bodies were recovered and a number of people were reported missing and never found. In addition to the dead, at least 5,000 people were injured in the disaster and over 12,000 left homeless, with entire districts of the city gutted.
The explosion, which sounded about seven times, led to the destruction of properties in and around the area. It was an unprecedented occurrence, so people scampered for safety.
While running helter-skelter, they heard several other explosions of the same intensity, and many thought a war had broken out. Aside from people who lost their lives directly to the explosion, the stampede also led to the deaths of others. Minute after minute, the death toll was rising.
As different streets were littered with corpses, a location that seemed to record the highest number of deaths was a large canal at Ajao Estate which links Oke-Afa in Isolo.
The surface of the canal was covered by water hyacinth so people running for safety thought it was dry land covered by bush. But as they jumped on it, they sank and drowned. The outcome was a mass grave with some families completely wiped off.
By the time the dust settled the following day, more than 1,000 lives had been lost. While some went missing and are yet to be seen to date, many became displaced and others sustained various injuries.
May the Souls of the departed during this incident continue to REST IN PEACE!