Massive gas storage blasts kill 11, mostly children in Afghanistan
At least 11 people, most of them children, were killed after a series of explosion at an Afghan gas storage facility triggered a fire in a nearby settlement for displaced people, officials said on Tuesday.
It was not immediately clear whether the blasts late Monday on the edge of the relatively peaceful western city of Herat were the result of an accident or caused by a militant attack.
“Around midnight (Monday) a gas tanker exploded which triggered blasts in a gas storage plant, killing 11 people and injuring 10 others,” Herat police spokesman Abdul Rauf Ahmadi told AFP.
The explosions triggered a plume of flames into the night sky, which rapidly spread to a nearby settlement of mud houses for internally displaced people where most of the deaths occurred.
Ihasanullah Hayat, spokesman for the governor of Herat, confirmed the toll and said the majority of those killed were children.
A resident of the hillside settlement, who lost a 9-year-old daughter in the fire, said many of the victims were trying to flee the towering flames.
“The explosions were powerful and sparked a huge fire,” said the man, who had sought refuge in Herat after fleeing the neighbouring restive province of Badghis.
“After the first explosion everyone started to flee the area and got caught up in the flames,” he added, reluctant to give his name.
Mourners gathered at the settlement for funeral prayers on Tuesday morning, with turbaned pall bearers seen carrying bodies for burial on makeshift stretchers.
Domestic gas cylinder explosions are an almost daily occurrence around the country, where safety standards are poor and fatal accidents not uncommon.
Courtesy of hindustantimes.com