LAGOS, Nigeria- Hurricane-strength winds and rain tore through the islands of Nigeria's commercial capital on Monday, killing at least one person and downing trees across major roadways.
The storm brought torrential rains through Ikoyi, Lagos and Victoria islands, the centers of commerce and home to diplomats and the country's elite in the city of Lagos. Tall palm trees bent in the wind, some snapping into homes and streets while fronds were blasted away. One man died at a busy transportation hub, said Yushau Shuaib, a spokesman for Nigeria's Emergency Management Agency.
An Associated Press journalist saw the victim's corpse at the hub close to the nation's former presidential palace in Ikoyi, the same location that Shuaib said the man died. The man, identified as a local math teacher coming to work, apparently died when a fixed antennae tore away from its moorings and struck him in the head.
Nearby, the wind had torn down an overhead highway road sign, smashing it into a passing sedan and injuring the driver and a passenger as the roof collapsed around them, witnesses said. The storm snarled the morning commute throughout Lagos, a city of 15 million residents regularly in the grips of traffic jams. Its violent gust lifted up roofs and slammed objects onto cars, Shuaib said.
Winds from the storm reached about 74 miles (120 kilometers) an hour, the threshold for hurricane wind speeds, said Mary Iso, the meteorological manager of Lagos' Murtala Muhammed International Airport. Further inland, winds reached up to 40 miles (about 65 kilometers) an hour, she said.
About two-thirds of an inch (about 1.7 centimeters) of water fell during the storm, which lasted about 15 minutes, Iso said. The Nigerian Meteorological Agency had previously issued warnings about the possibility of a storm coming through as the seasons begin to change in the nation, Iso said.
Nigeria remains gripped by Harmattan winds, which carry sand from the Sahara Desert over Africa's most populous nation. The country's rainy season typically begins in several weeks. "Within a transitional period like this, we normally have erratic weather," Iso told The Associated Press.
--- By LEKAN OYEKANMI Associated Press