Afghanistan: Roaring oil tanker kills 7 and injures 14 in Kabul | Asia News


It breaks down tears through dozens of fuel tanks, destroys homes and cuts off electricity in much of the capital.

A blazing fire that ran through tanker trucks in the far north of the Afghan capital Kabul has killed seven people and injured 14.

On Sunday, investigators combed dozens of burning tankers and a gas station trapped by the flames roaring around the area on Saturday afternoon, Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said.

There was no immediate indication of whether the fire was an accident or a sabotage. It came on the same day as the United States and NATO the final phase officially began of a withdrawal from Afghanistan, ending a military commitment of nearly 20 years.

Firefighters extinguish a burning oil tanker in Kabul [Rahmat Gul/AP]

All 2,500 to 3,500 U.S. soldiers and some 7,000 NATO allied forces will leave Afghanistan no later than Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the U.S. attacks that brought them to the country.

Arian said the fire started when a spark set fire to a fuel tank. Several tankers nearby were quickly engulfed, sending giant flames and plumes of smoke into the night sky before the fire spread to several houses and a nearby gas station. Several structures were destroyed and electricity was removed in much of Kabul, which usually has only sporadic power.

The injured were treated mainly for burns at local hospitals. On Sunday, truck drivers blocked the road leading to the area and demanded compensation from the government.

‘Vehicle to vehicle’

One driver, Haji Mir, said the blast was deafening as trucks lined up entering the city.

“The first explosion sounded like a mine explosion,” he said. “There were flames firing from a truck and then a second truck and a third exploded.” He estimated that up to 100 trucks could have been lit.

Dozens of fuel trucks were reportedly destroyed [Rahmat Gul/AP]

Obaidullah, a resident of the area, said the fireballs were huge. His family and neighbors ran to his backyards.

“The fire lit up the sky,” he said. “Drivers shouted that their co-pilots were trapped and burned.”

Firefighters arrived at the scene, but their capacity was limited and it took hours to control the fire. Sunday morning, the flames still jumped from the burning ruins.

In mid-February, a large fire broke out on the Afghanistan-Iran border in which hundreds of trucks and containers worth millions of dollars were involved after a fuel truck exploded. At least 17 people were injured.

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