Four dead and several injured in fuel tank explosion in Lebanon

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By Mark Armstrong  with AP
Four dead and several injured in fuel tank explosion in Lebanon
Copyright  Bilal Hussein/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Four people were killed in Beirut on Friday night when a diesel tank exploded in the Tariq Jadidah neighbourhood according to the Lebanese Red Cross.

The state-run National News Agency said the blast happened inside a bakery in the basement of the building, causing a fire.

As well as the four dead victims several others were injured. It wasn't clear what triggered the initial explosion.

"We were cleaning the street then suddenly a very strong explosion shook the place and everything starting falling down," said eyewitness Ali Ghannam. "A diesel or gasoline tank was blown in the air then fell down, causing fire and electricity cables to be cut, and people ran away. We still don't know the details."

Firefighters quickly put out the blaze and later helped trapped residents to escape.

Lebanese troops were deployed to the area and pushed back onlookers.

The explosion comes two months after a massive blast at Beirut’s port killed nearly 200 people and injured about 6,500, causing damage worth billions of euros.

Nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive chemical used in fertilizers, exploded at Beirut’s port on Aug 4. The material had been stored at the facility for six years.

It is still not known what ignited the nitrate but more than two dozen people, many of them port and customs officials have been detained since.