Nigeria: at least 2 dead and 77 injured in a strong explosion Nigeria: at least 2 dead and 77 injured in a strong explosion

Nigeria: at least 2 dead and 77 injured in a strong explosion

Nigeria: at least 2 dead and 77 injured in a strong explosion

Two people died and 77 others were injured after a massive explosion shook more than a dozen buildings in one of Nigeria's biggest cities Tuesday night, the governor said Wednesday, as rescuers dig into the rubble in search of people feared to be trapped.

Residents of the populous town of Ibadan in the southwestern state of Oyo heard a loud bang around 7:45 p.m., causing residents to panic and flee. On Wednesday morning, security forces cordoned off the area, while medical personnel and ambulances stood by to step up rescue operations .

Preliminary investigations showed that the blast was caused by explosives stored for illegal mining operations, Oyo Governor Seyi Makinde told journalists after visiting the site in Bodija area of ​​Ibadan.

“We have already deployed first responders and all relevant agencies in Oyo State to carry out search and rescue operations ,” Mr Makinde said, describing the damage as “devastating” .

Illegal mining is common in mineral-rich Nigeria and is a major concern for authorities. However, these activities mainly take place in remote areas where arrests are difficult and security procedures are rarely respected.

The identity of the person who stored the explosives was not immediately clear, and no arrests were announced. “Investigations are continuing (and) all those found guilty will be brought to justice ,” Governor Makinde said.

Most of the 77 injured have already been released from hospitals, said the governor, who promised to cover the medical costs of others still hospitalized and to provide temporary housing for those whose homes were hit.

Sect in Kenya: Pastor Mackenzie and 30 followers in court

Doomsday cult leader Paul Mackenzie and 30 of his followers appeared before a Kenyan court in the coastal town of Malindi on Wednesday to face charges of murdering 191 children.

Mackenzie and the other suspects did not enter pleas, with High Court Judge Mugure Thande granting prosecutors' request to subject them to a mental evaluation and reappear in court on February 6.

The remains of 180 of the 191 deceased children have not been identified, according to the prosecution's indictment.

Mackenzie and some of his followers were accused of the deaths of 429 members of his Good News International Church , many of whom reportedly starved themselves in hopes of meeting Jesus Christ before the end of the world.

The bodies were discovered in dozens of shallow graves on a 320-hectare ranch in a remote area known as Shakahola Forest , in coastal Kilifi County. The graves were discovered after police rescued 15 emaciated church members who told investigators that Mackenzie had asked them to fast to death before the end of the world. Four of them died after being taken to hospital.

Autopsies performed on some of the bodies found in the graves showed that they had died of starvation , strangulation or suffocation .

Kenya's attorney general said Monday that 95 people would be charged with murder , cruelty, torture of children and other crimes.

For months since the defendants' arrest last April, prosecutors have asked a Kilifi court for permission to keep them in detention while the investigation continues. But last week, Senior Magistrate Yousuf Shikanda rejected their latest request to detain the suspects for another 60 days, saying prosecutors had had enough time to complete the investigation.

Mackenzie is serving a separate one-year prison sentence after being convicted of operating a movie studio and producing films for his preaching without a valid license. He is said to have encouraged church members to go to the Shakahola Forest to prepare for the end of the world.

A Senate committee report indicated that Mackenzie chose the area because of its remoteness. “Once in the villages established by Mackenzie, followers were not allowed to leave the area, nor to interact with each other ,” the report states.

“Followers were required to destroy vital documents including national identity cards, birth certificates, property certificates, education certificates and marriage certificates ,” which posed problems for the identification of the deceased, according to the report.

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