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FACT-CHECK: Claim about snow in Lagos is FALSE

A VIDEO clip shared on July 8 by Sahara Reporters has gone viral on social media. The footage headlined: “Video: Snow-like Chemical Surge Causes Panic in Lagos” shows snow-like foams that purportedly prevented Lagosians from accessing their homes.

As of the time of filing this report, the video has garnered 12,011 views on YouTube and has gone viral on Whatsapp.

The spilled substance. Photo Source: Lagos State Government

CLAIM

Arising from the footage, many have claimed that it is snowing in Lagos.

FINDINGS

Close examination of the video footage revealed there were two separate videos merged as one.

The first part of the footage showed the snow-like foamy substance truly blocking the entrance to people’s homes. Underground female voices called for help in panic.

Someone was also being helped down the ladder from a storey-building apartment.

The second part of the video revealed a typical snow-like foam covering the major highway. But further findings showed it was not snowing, unlike the claim in the second video footage.

Meanwhile, the snow-like material is a foam often used by firefighters to suppress fire incidents.

Though the foam is not unusual for fire control, it is mainly recognised as Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) solutions which could also cause health hazards if wrongly managed.

Findings revealed that the AFFF blanket blocks oxygen supply to inflammable petroleum materials. It suppresses fuel vapour through aqueous film and produces a cooling effect as part of the fire suppressing measures.

The United States Fire Administration, an institution of government that works to prevent fire outbreaks says AFFF could be a combination of Per and polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) – the Perfluorooctane Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic Acid (PFOS) but warned against long term exposure to the chemicals.

The accident scene
Photo Source: Gbenga Omotoso, Commissioner for Information and Strategy

The ICIR reached out to Gbenga Omotoso, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy to clarify the viral footage and the exact incident. But contrary to the popular belief, he said the incident could be an outcome of a chemical reaction to avert a fire incident.

He said a truck approaching from the Lagos Sea Port fell due to an accident along Anthony axis. The truck, he noted was conveying an inflammable material, so the Lagos State Fire Service was deployed to intervene. The firefighters reportedly sprayed the AFFF on the spilled content to avoid fire incident.

“There was an accident involving Petroleum Tanker with heavy Petroleum spillage and in order to prevent further hazard, the State Fire Services quickly coated the road and area with foam-like material which is not poisonous or injurious to the environment and human health,” Omotoso told The ICIR.

“The thing is that our colleagues are very quick to publish whatever they see. You see a video somewhere; you did not bother to find out what was the matter. But when you explain, they don’t want to care anymore.

“This is something the government should be earning praises for. You can imagine such a fire on Ikorodu road.”

As a proof, Omotoso shared another video showing activities of firefighters while spraying the chemical to avoid an inferno.

Nosa Okundor, Public Affairs Officer, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) was contacted to further verify the claim. He said the decision to deploy the foamy blanket was to prevent fire accident.

“In extreme cases, it can get volatile but it may not be as extreme as other petroleum materials.”

Officials of the Lagos State Fire Service
Officials of the Lagos State Fire Service supported by Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) at the scene of the accident that led to the use of foamy substance to prevent fire incident

VERDICT

From the available evidence gathered, the purported snow incident reported in Lagos is FALSE.

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