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Fuel tanker explosion on Afghanistan-Iran border injures at least 60, extinguished after three days

16 February 2021

A fuel tanker explosion at a border crossing in western Afghanistan injured around 60 people on February 13. The incident happened in the province of Herat on the Iranian border and was eventually extinguished on February 16 after firefighters from both Afghanistan and Iran fought the blaze.

Representative image: Shutterstock
Representative image: Shutterstock

The explosion started a significant fire that spread between several tankers at the Islam Qala border crossing, around 75 miles (120km) west of the city of Herat. The border crossing is a key transit route between Afghanistan and Iran. Hundreds of trucks carrying natural gas, fuel, and other flammable substances were caught up in the explosion and fire. Estimates suggest around 60 people were injured by the blast and fire. Most were transported to hospitals on either side of the border.

Two explosions occurred during the fire, both powerful enough to be seen by NASA satellites. Iranian state news reports that around 500 vehicles were destroyed.

Afghan authorities are yet to announce the cause of the blast; however, they did confirm that over 2,000 vehicles were saved from the flames after hundreds were rushed through the border crossing. Authorities said that at the time of the incident, more than 2,500 vehicles were at the border crossing despite the capacity being just 700.

After three days of tackling the blaze, firefighters said that only small fire remained on February 15. An investigation has been opened to find out what caused the blast.

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