Iraq: Fuel tank explosion kills 15

Fifteen people died in the explosion of a fuel tank that caused the collapse of a building in northern Iraq, local authorities announced on Friday (November 18th), at the end of the rescue operations carried out to find victims under the rubble.

The explosion that occurred this Thursday evening in Suleimaniyeh, the second largest city in autonomous Kurdistan, left 15 dead and around ten injured, according to a final report communicated to AFP by the governor of Suleimaniyeh, Haval Abu Bakr, who decreed a day of mourning. “There are no more bodies under the rubble of the house“, he clarified, indicating that “majority of victims are women and children“.

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A leak in a gas tank

The three-storey residential building collapsed under the impact of an explosion caused by a leak in a tank of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), used for heating, according to local authorities.

A previous human toll given this Friday morning reported 11 dead while the emergency services were still looking for four people in the ruins of the building. Hours later, the city’s emergency chief, Saman Nader, reported, “end of operations“, specifying that a total of 15 bodies had finally been discovered.

An AFP correspondent was able to see the rescuers working among the rubble under the gaze of the inhabitants of the city. On the site, a neighboring building also suffered from the blast of the explosion, its facade blackened and its windows shattered.

Medical expenses covered

Bafel Jalal Talabani, president of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (UPK), the historic Kurdish party at the helm in Suleimaniyeh, announced that he would finance the reconstruction of the destroyed house and adjoining buildings, but also the medical expenses of the injured who would have need treatment abroad, according to the political party’s website.

In Iraq, safety standards are poorly respected, whether in the transport or construction sector. In this country with its failing infrastructure, this type of tragedy is commonplace.

At the end of October, at least nine people were killed and 13 others injured in the accidental explosion of a tanker transporting gas in Baghdad, the Iraqi capital. In April 2021, more than 80 people died in a fire in a hospital in the Iraqi capital, where improperly stored oxygen cylinders exploded.

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