Gaza: At least nine people were killed and 60 injured on Thursday when a bakery fire swept through a crowded market in a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, health officials said.
Six children were among the dead and 14 of the injured were in critical condition, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
Witnesses said they heard an explosion come from a bakery in the Nusseirat camp in central Gaza before a blaze engulfed the bakery and quickly spread to nearby stores, factories and cars parked along the street.
Gaza’s interior ministry said the fire resulted from a gas leak inside one of the bakeries which caused several cooking gas bottles to explode.
Large numbers of civilians rushed to help firefighters put out the flames. Smoke rising over the refugee camp could be seen from miles away.
“People started to run towards the sound but then a huge fire broke out...it was horrifying,” said Ishaq Kuhail, 24, who owns a nearby cellphone shop. “I have never seen anything like it.” The fire was eventually put out after over three hours of work by firefighters and civilians, said Mohammad Mahmoud, 38.
Gaza authorities said they would offer cash assistance to the injured and families of the dead.
Gaza, a Palestinian enclave which covers 365 square km along the Mediterranean Sea, is home to some two million people.