BEIRUT, Aug 15 (Reuters) – At least 28 people were killed and 79 injured when a fuel tank exploded in northern Lebanon early on Sunday, the health ministry said.
Military and security sources said that the army had seized a fuel storage tank hidden by black marketeers and was handing out gasoline to residents when the explosion occured.
Lebanon is suffering from a severe fuel shortage, leading to long lines at gas stations and extended blackouts. The disaster happened in the town of Altalil, in the Akkar region that is one of Lebanon’s poorest areas.
About 200 people were nearby at the time of the explosion, eyewitnesses said.
Caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan said the worst cases of burns probably needed quick treatment abroad to save their lives.
Army and security forces personnel were among the casualties, sources said.
Accounts varied as to what caused the explosion.
“There was a rush of people, and arguments between some of them led to gunfire which hit the tank of gasoline and so it exploded,” said a security source.