Nearly 200 wounded in Ankara petrol station blasts
Nearly 200 people were injured, several seriously, when a series of explosions rocked a petrol station in the Turkish capital of Ankara late Saturday, sparking several fires which rapidly swept to nearby buildings, according to officials.
A number of small explosions took place as a tanker truck filled with liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) was discharging its load at the station in the center of town. They were immediately followed by a large explosion, which set nearby buildings alight, eyewitnesses said.
The latest injury toll was 189, Turkish Health Minister Recep Akdag told NTV television after visiting the scene, with seven people hospitalized with serious burns. Four were in a particularly grave condition, he added.
The station, along with a four-story building that included a wedding hall built above it, were completely burnt out.
Up to 300 people were attending a wedding reception in the building above the petrol station, according to one eyewitness quoted by Anatolia news agency.
"We all got out after the first explosion. When we were about 150 meters away there was another tremendous explosion and we were blown to the ground," according to Urkiye Kodal.
"Those attending the wedding celebration had a lucky escape. Had they not managed to leave the building in time there would have been dozens of people killed," according to one resident.
Some 100 firefighters managed to put out the fires after a couple of hours.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Minister Akdag went to the scene and visited some of the injured in hospital, television reported. (Albawaba.com)