Nigerian authorities said 71 people had been confirmed killed
LAGOS - Nigerian authorities said 71 people had been confirmed killed in a Monday bomb blast in a crowded car park in capital Abuja, though medical and independent sources insisted the death toll was much higher.
"A total of 71 people were killed, while 134 were injured," Manzo Ezekiel, a spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), told Anadolu Agency.
"The number of the injured was earlier pegged at 124, but we have since discovered ten more cases," he said.
On Monday morning, a bomb went off in Nyanya, one of Abuja's largest car parks.
The blast occurred in a section of the park used by El-Rufai Buses, a major interstate transport company.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has since visited the blast site and met with some of the injured in hospital.
Earlier Monday, the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) said that up to 350 people injured in the blast were in need of blood transfusions – clearly contradicting the official figure of 134 wounded.
"I don't know where they got that figure from," Ezekiel said. "If you add 71 to 134, they [don't add] up to 300. I don't know about such figure."
But hospital sources, along with a respected local newspaper, insist the official death toll is being downplayed.
"It cannot be true that only 71 died, because 68 were brought to Asokoro Hospital alone," a source at the public health facility told AA.
"And I am aware that many other casualties were also taken to Maitama Hospital, the National Hospital and Wuse General Hospital, among others," the source added.
"While I cannot say a precise number of casualties, I am almost certain it is far higher than 71," the hospital source asserted.
Nigeria's local Premium Times online newspaper also challenged official figures.
It said that estimates by witnesses – and by its reporter at the scene – had suggested that "about 200 people are believed to have died from the blast."
Gbenga Aruleba, a popular television host, said he personally saw "two truckloads of dead bodies being ferried away from the scene of the blast" when he passed by Nyanya Monday morning.
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