Two Nigerian workers killed in generator explosion at Canada's high commission

OTTAWA — Two Nigerian maintenance workers were killed Monday and two others injured when a diesel generator exploded at Canada's high commission in Abuja.

Nkechi Isa, spokeswoman for the State Emergency Management Agency in Abuja, said a fire broke out in the morning while workers were servicing generators.

“The fire occurred when the tank of diesel in the generator house containing 2,000 litres exploded,” Isa told The Associated Press, adding that both people killed were Nigerian maintenance workers.

Two more maintenance workers were being treated for severe burns, she added.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly confirmed the explosion and offered her condolences to the workers' families but did not offer any specifics about what happened.

"The fire is out and we are working to shed light on what caused this situation," Joly wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

"I send my heartfelt condolences to the families of the (two) people killed in this tragedy."

Global Affairs Canada said its mission, which is located in the diplomatic quarter of Abuja, "has temporarily suspended operations until further notice."

The office of Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu published an image of smoke wafting from the building. A spokesman wrote that Tinubu expressed condolences, and offered his government's "full support" to those working at the high commission.

Global Affairs Canada data, provided to the Senate foreign affairs committee, said that as of August 2022 there were 12 Canadian diplomats and 32 locally hired staff at the Nigerian high commission.

— With files from The Associated Press

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 6, 2023.

Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press