15 killed in Iraqi blast

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Iraqi authorities have confirmed fifteen people dead and about a dozen other injured in the northern part of the country as a fuel tank exploded, causing a building to collapse.

Provincial governor Haval Abu Bakr, who provided the final toll for Thursday evening’s blast in Sulaimaniyah, the second-largest city of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, declared a day of mourning in the province.

Abu Bakr said “Most of the victims are women and children,” adding that “there are no more bodies under the rubble of the house”.

Authorities revealed that the three-story building collapsed after a leak from a liquefied petroleum gas tank used for heating triggered a blast.

Emergency services still searching for survivors had given an earlier toll of 11, but several hours later the city’s emergency response chief, Saman Nader, announced “the end of operations”, with 15 bodies found in total.

The explosion was said to have shattered the windows and blackened the facade of a neighbouring building.

The head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in power in Sulaimaniyah, Bafel Jalal Talabani, said he would finance the reconstruction of the building and those nearby, adding that he would cover medical bills of any injured needing care abroad.

Much of war-ravaged Iraq’s infrastructure is dilapidated and tragedies are common just as the country also suffers from poorly enforced safety standards, particularly in the transport and construction sectors.

In late October, at least nine people were killed and 13 others injured when a tanker transporting gas accidentally exploded in Baghdad, the Iraqi capital.

In April 2021, over 80 people died in a Baghdad hospital fire when improperly stored oxygen cylinders exploded.

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