Fuel tank explosion kills at least 20, injures 80 in Lebanon
16 August 2021
A fuel tank explosion killed at least 20 people and injured 80 others in northern Lebanon on August 15. The blast happened in the Akkar region of the country and comes at a time when Lebanon is struggling with an economic crisis and severe fuel shortage.
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State media reports that the incident occurred after a fuel tank was confiscated by the Lebanese army. There has been a crackdown fuel hoarding in recent week’s due to an ongoing fuel shortage that has caused a number of power cuts in the country and widespread disruption.
State media said the fuel tank is said to have exploded after “scuffles” broke out among local residents who had gathered to fill up on gasoline. According to the Lebanese Red Cross, emergency services attended the scene after reports of an explosion at 02:00 local time. Many of the injured were taken to local hospitals in Akkar, however many had to be turned away because the hospitals did not have the facilities to deal with severe burns, media reports say.
A day before the explosion, the Lebanese army had said it was seizing thousands of litres of fuel across Lebanon after distributors began stockpiling and hoarding it due to the ongoing shortage. There are fears that medical facilities around the country may have to close down if the fuel shortage and power cuts continue.
Emergency services and soldiers continued to search the site of the explosion on August 16 and said the death toll could rise. Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun has called for an immediate investigation into the blast which comes just two weeks after the country marked the one year anniversary of the ammonium nitrate explosion at the port of Beirut which killed over 200 people and injured around 7,500.