Showing posts with label yangon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label yangon. Show all posts

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Warehouse blast kills 17 in Mayanmar

warehouse blast in mayanmar
Warehouse blast in Mayanmar
YANGON — A pre-dawn blast at a warehouse in Myanmar's biggest city killed at least 17 people and injured dozens more on Thursday, sparking a blaze that took firefighters hours to tame, officials said.

Officials ruled out a bomb but said they had yet to determine the cause of the explosion in Yangon, formerly the capital.

Residents in several areas of the city were woken around 2:00 am (1930 GMT) by the blast, which appeared to have hit a medical warehouse in the eastern township of Mingalar Taung Nyunt, witnesses told AFP.

The flames engulfed several buildings in the warehouse compound and destroyed around 50 homes in the area, most of them wooden dwellings.

At least 17 people, including four firefighters, had died, while 79 others were injured, including around 30 firemen, a government official told AFP.

"It was not a bomb explosion," another official said, though he added that the cause of the blast, which sparked a large fire that destroyed many nearby storage units and houses, remained unknown.

Firefighters battled through the night to douse the flames and finally succeeded in extinguishing the massive fire at around 6:45 am, revealing a scene of utter devastation.

An AFP photographer saw rescue workers frantically searching for survivors, carrying young children to safety and pulling a dead body from the burnt-out rubble.

The blaze left hundreds homeless, a third official said.

"Around 900 people are homeless now and they are sheltering at nearby monasteries serving as rescue centers," he said.

"About seven warehouses were totally destroyed. The responsible officials are still trying to find out what happened," he told AFP.

One resident, Khin Hla Kyi, said she feared for her life as she fled the encroaching fire, which devoured her home and all of her possessions.

"We had to run for our lives," she told AFP. "Now we have nowhere to go. My house was destroyed."

The blast also created a huge crater at least 10 metres (yards) wide and several metres deep, filled with plastic and metal debris.

Dozens of rescue workers and onlookers crowded around the gaping hole to take stock of the damage on Thursday, when white smoke could still be seen billowing from the site.

An exhausted firefighter said he was unable to give details about the blaze, saying only: "We are really tired because we have been putting out the fire all night."

The first funerals for the victims were due to be held Thursday afternoon.

In a city not unused to bomb blasts, the sound of the unexplained explosion overnight brought hundreds of worried locals into the streets.

"We heard a very loud noise from the explosion and saw smoke in the sky. Our building was also shaken by the explosion. We have no idea what's happening," a resident in nearby Botahtaung township told AFP.

Last week, a blast caused by an explosive device killed one woman and wounded another in northern Yangon.

Myanmar has been hit by several bomb blasts in recent years, most of them minor, which the authorities have blamed on armed exile groups or ethnic minority fighters.

News by AFP

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