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Nigeria: Fireworks Blast And Blaze Kills One

Fire has ripped through a crowded part of the Nigerian city Lagos, killing at least one person and injuring 30 others after a huge explosion rocked a building storing fireworks.

The blast and fire, which started around 9am local time, led to panic in the Jankara neigbourhood of Lagos, with residents jumping from windows to flee and others salvaging goods from their shops.

Fireworks continued to explode well after the fire began making it difficult for rescue workers and firefighters to approach the scene.

"We pulled out a body from the building," said Ibrahim Farinloye of the National Emergency Management Agency (Nema).

Huge crowds gathered in the area and residents rushed to help firefighters, bringing containers of water and helping carry hoses.

Three tankers at the scene from the fire service later ran out of water and an emergency official said military personnel were called in to help.

Officials said the inferno appeared to have started at the fireworks warehouse, where a major explosion shook parts of the sprawling city of some 15 million people.

An emergency source said initial reports indicated that the fire caused the explosion. But an official statement from Nema later said the precise cause was yet to be determined.

Rubble-strewn streets surrounding the burning building were covered in the spent shells of fireworks.

Several police officers and security officials found large, mortar-like fireworks in the building, the kind wired to explode as part of a large arrangement put on by professionals.

"We have treated up to 30 people so far," Red Cross worker Nicolas Adesile said at the scene.

Rescue workers had difficulty reaching the scene due to traffic and crowds.

Fireworks are popular in Nigeria during the Christmas and New Year holidays.

But local government officials have tried to ban fireworks this year, in part due to safety and in part due to the fear they can cause in a nation where a radical Islamist sect is carrying out shootings and car bombings.