The gas cylinder explosion caused a fire in a residential area, injuring dozens and destroying several homes and vehicles.

The death toll from a gas cylinder explosion in a residential area of ​​the northern Iraqi city of Sulaimaniyah has risen to 15.

Thursday’s explosion, in which a house collapsed, also injured 16 people.

Sulaimaniyah’s civil defense said on Friday that the rescue operation to find the victims took 17 hours.

Firefighters managed to contain the fire that broke out after the gas bottle exploded in the second largest city in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq.

“A total of 15 bodies have been pulled from the rubble,” said the city’s civil defense chief Diyar Ibrahim, according to the official Iraqi News Agency.

Ibrahim said searches continued into the early hours of Friday, adding that there were no more bodies under the rubble.

Saman Nader, the city’s emergency chief, blamed the explosion on “a gas leak from a tank”.

People gather as firefighters search for victims and survivors under the rubble of a building that collapsed after a gas tank exploded in the northern Iraqi city of Suleimaniyah on Nov. 18, 2022.  11 people were killed, local authorities said.  (Photo by Shwan MOHAMMED/AFP)
Search for victims trapped under rubble took 17 hours, Sulaimaniyah civil defense said [Shwan Mohammed/AFP]

According to police, the fire damaged several homes and destroyed at least five vehicles. It also said at least three homes were destroyed by the explosion.

A cooking gas cylinder has been placed on the roof of one of the homes in the residential area.

Sulaimaniyah province governor Haval Abubaker announced three days of mourning earlier on Friday. He added that at least one child was among the victims.

Masrour Barzani, Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, has ordered an investigation.

Infrastructure tragedies are common in Iraq, which suffers from poorly maintained safety standards.

End of October a gas tanker explodes in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, killing at least nine people and injuring several others, security forces said.

In April 2021, at least 82 people were killed and more than 100 injured a fire that broke out in the coronavirus intensive care unit of a Baghdad hospital, when improperly stored oxygen cylinders exploded.

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