Fuel tank explosion kills at least nine in Hatay

Fuel tank explosion kills at least nine in Hatay

Fuel tank explosion kills at least nine in Hatay

Doğan News Agency quoted a witness saying that many of the victims of the explosion were construction workers. DHA photo

An explosion at a fuel oil warehouse killed at least nine people in the southern Turkish province of Hatay on May 17.

The explosion happened during a gendarmerie operation in a building under construction, which was allegedly being used as an illegal fuel oil warehouse in the Tanışma village of Hatay's Altınözü district.

Hatay Gov. Mehmet Celalettin Lekesiz said the warehouse owner burned down the building, refusing to hand over the fuel oil. "As the explosion sparked a flare up, we understand that there were [products] other than oil. Highly inflammable products such as a mixture of paint thinner and solvent," Lekesiz said. The warehouse owner was in a critical condition, Lekesiz added.

According to some reports three people were injured while other reports said five officers had been wounded in the explosion. Meanwhile prosecutors said the warehouse contained close to five tons of smuggled oil.

Doğan news agency quoted a witness as saying many of the victims were locals from the village and some were construction workers.

Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is currently visiting Washington, said the incident was not related to the twin blasts that killed 52 people in the Reyhanlı district of Hatay.