Up to 200 people died yesterday when an oil pipeline blew up at a beach village near the Nigerian economic capital Lagos, a policeman at the scene said.
The officer, who asked not to be named, put the death toll at between 150 and 200 "or even more."
The Nigerian Red Cross had earlier reported more than 100 deaths as a result of the explosion at Ilado beach village, near the port of Apapa, where numerous oil installations are located.
"Over 100 people were burnt to death and beyond recognition following the explosion," Nigerian Red Cross Secretary General Abiodun Orebiyi told reporters by telephone.
"We have been unable to recover any injured person. All of them were burnt beyond recognition. We found at the scene of the explosion about 500 jerrycans which we suspect were used to steal fuel from the pipeline," he said.
One correspondent at the scene reported seeing scores of carbonized, disfigured corpses floating on the water and lying under a boat that had been destroyed by the flames. Only the bones remained of some victims.
There were indications several had attempted to flee before the fireball completely engulfed them, the correspondent said.
Orebiyi said the "raging fire" had been put out and normality was returning to Ilado.
He said Red Cross workers at the scene had found evidence that people had been trying to siphon off oil from the pipeline.
"We found that vandals have drilled holes on [into] the pipeline, from where they have been stealing fuel. We advise strongly Nigerians to desist from this dangerous act,"Orebiyi said.
Private TV netowrk Channels said firefighters and oil officials had been sent to Ilado village.