Gas tank explosion kills 5 in Duhok province of Iraqi Kurdistan

Gas tank explosion kills 5 in Duhok province of Iraqi Kurdistan
At least 20 were killed in two separate gas-related blasts in the Iraqi Kurdistan region since the past week.
3 min read
22 November, 2022
A similar incident in Sulaimaniyah city last week in which 15 people were killed and 12 others were wounded when a three-story house was demolished by a LPG gas explosion. [Dana Taib Menmy/TNA]

A gas tank explosion in Duhok city in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region late on Monday killed at least five and wounded 34 people, Kurdish health officials said.

The tragedy happened when a gas tank on the rooftop of a three-story building in Duhok exploded, killing three students and two officers within the local civil defence teams. The health ministry of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said in a statement that some of the injured are in critical condition, thus the death toll might increase.

The students resided on the second and third floors of the building, the gas tank was used for a bakery on the first floor, Rudaw English reported.

The KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani ordered an urgent investigation into the incident as well as a similar incident in Sulaimaniyah city that occurred last week in which 15 people were killed and 12 others were wounded when a three-story house completely collapsed due to an LPG gas explosion.

He also ordered relevant government bodies to re-examine those places that use Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) for domestic heating systems and investigate the quality of the gas in service and the companies that install the system.

Barzani also ordered ceasing the operation of such gas systems across the region until the investigations conclude.

Locals of Sulaimaniyah, who were attending the rescue efforts for the demolished house, said to The New Arab that "the KRG is responsible for most of the tragedies happen in the region as it has failed to provide fuel, electricity and other basic services for the people". 

The Iraqi Kurdistan region exports more than 450,000 barrels of oil per day via neighbouring Turkey, but hardly provides fuels for domestic use. Consequently, most people use LPG for heating as it is cheaper than kerosene.

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Currently, the KRG provides only 12 hours of electricity from the national grid, and private-sector generators fill the shortage. The KRG ministry of natural resources began a process of distributing one barrel of kerosene to each family with a deducted price of 100,000 Iraqi dinars (US$67), but the process is very slow. The price of one barrel of kerosene in the black market has reached more than 270,000 Iraqi dinars (US$182).

Much of war-ravaged Iraq's infrastructure is dilapidated and tragedies are common. The country also suffers from poorly enforced safety standards, particularly in the transport and construction sectors.

In late October, at least nine people were killed and 13 others injured when a tanker transporting gas accidentally exploded in Baghdad, the Iraqi capital.

In April 2021, more than 80 people died in a Baghdad hospital fire when improperly stored oxygen cylinders exploded.