Al-Tleil Tragedy Burns Hearts and Bodies: At Least 28 Killed in Fuel Tank Explosion
By Staff, Agencies
Anger and tears govern the scene in Akkar after at least 28 people were killed and 79 injured early Sunday when a fuel tank exploded.
Security sources said that the Army had seized a fuel storage tank hidden by black marketeers and was in the midst of handing out gasoline to residents when the explosion took place in Al-Tleil village, in the Akkar region that is one of Lebanon's poorest areas.
About 200 people were nearby at the time of the explosion.
Caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan said the worst cases of burns probably needed quick treatment abroad to save their lives.
"We need urgent help to evacuate some of the injured abroad .. .There are cases that are more than the ability of Lebanese hospitals to handle," he said.
Army and security forces personnel were among the casualties, the Army said in its statement, adding that it was investigating the blast.
The Red Cross said its teams were still searching the explosion site.
Angry residents in Akkar gathered at the site and set fire to two dump trucks
Some of the injured were sent to hospitals in nearby Tripoli, while others were sent to Beirut. The majority of the injured are in serious condition.
Caretaker Health Minister Hassan urged hospitals across the north and in Beirut to receive some of the injured.
"They all have burns," he said, adding that they were turned away because the hospitals aren't equipped to treat such cases.
Others found care 25 kilometres away at the Al-Salam hospital in the northern city of Tripoli, the only facility in the region able to handle burn patients.
President Michel Aoun wrote on Twitter that "this tragedy that befell our dear Akkar has made the hearts of all Lebanese bleed."
He said he had asked the judiciary to investigate the circumstances that led to the explosion.
Security forces fired tear gas to disperse the dozens of protesters outside the residency of Prime Minister designate Najib Mikati, witnesses said.
"Although I understand the cries of people and their right to protest, what happened... is not a peaceful protest but unacceptable vandalism," Mikati said in a statement.