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Filipino blamed for fatal Saudi fuel truck blast

05 November 2012

Authorities in Saudi Arabia are now investigating the Filipino driver allegedly responsible for the Riyadh tanker explosion last week that killed 26 people, the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on November 5. The truck crashed into a flyover in the Saudi capital on November 1, triggering an explosion that brought down an industrial building and set fire to nearby vehicles.

DFA Assistant Secretary and spokesperson Raul Hernandez identified the Filipino driver as Robin Kebeng, based on the report given by the Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ezzedin Tago. “He is under investigation by the criminal investigation office in Riyadh, but the investigation process is still continuing,” Hernandez said in a press briefing.

Besides the dead, around 135 people were injured in the disaster, Health ministry spokesman Saad al-Qahtani said. The dead included Saudis and foreigners of several nationalities, the ministry of health said in a statement.

The accident occurred at a junction on Khurays Road, one of the city's main arteries. Gas leaks from the fuel tank following the collision led to the blast, causing many vehicles to crash and setting several of them ablaze.

The civil defence department said a gas tanker had hit a bridge in Riyadh, causing a gas leak and an explosion in a nearby heavy machinery and vehicles warehouse, according to state news agency SPA.

The civil defence chief, Saed al-Tweijri, said the fire had been brought under control. He blamed the tanker driver for the accident. The warehouse, several storeys high, was levelled by the blast, which also caused severe damage to other neighbouring buildings. Rubble, twisted metal and shattered glass littered a wide stretch of the surrounding area.

The cost of the fuel tanker explosion last week is estimated at nearly US$80m, not including insurance claims for the deaths of 22 people and injuring of 133, according to a report by Arab News.

The accident came two days after at least 28 people were killed in a wedding party blaze in the east of the kingdom. 

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