BEIRUT (AP) — A fuel tanker truck exploded early Sunday in northern Lebanon, killing 20 people and wounding dozens more, the Lebanese Red Cross said. It was not immediately clear what caused the blast.
The Lebanese Red Cross said its teams recovered 20 bodies from the site of the explosion in the northern village of Tleil and evacuated 79 people who were injured or suffered burns in the blast.
Lebanon’s Health Minister Hamad Hassan called on all hospitals in northern Lebanon and the capital, Beirut, to receive those injured by the explosion, adding that the government will pay for their treatment.
The explosion comes as Lebanon faces a severe fuel shortage that has been blamed on smuggling, hoarding and the cash-strapped government’s inability to secure deliveries of imported fuel.
Tleil is about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from the Syrian border, but it was not immediately clear if the fuel in the tanker was being prepared to be smuggled to Syria. where prices are much higher compared to those in Lebanon.
Sunday’s explosion was the deadliest in the country since an Aug. 4, 2020, blast at Beirut’s port killed at least 214, wounded thousands and destroyed parts of the capital.
The Associated Press