Firefighters search for victims and survivors under the rubble of a building in Suleimaniyah, Iraq, on Friday. AFP
Provincial governor Haval Abu Bakr provided the final toll for Thursday evening’s blast in Sulaimaniyah, the second-largest city of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, and declared a day of mourning in the province.
Bus plunge kills 20 in southern Pakistan
Worlds oldest student Priscilla Sitieni, 99, dies in Kenya
On Thursday night, Kurdish officials and local media reports said that an unknown number of people were trapped under the rubble.
Masrour Barzani, prime minister of the semi-autonomous Kurdish-controlled region in northern Iraq, ordered an investigation.
Excavators work on a site where a large gas cylinder exploded in a residential area in Sulaimaniya, Iraq. Reuters
“Most of the victims are women and children,” Abu Bakr said, adding that “there are no more bodies under the rubble of the house.” He added that a child was among the victims, INA reported.
Civil defence firefighters managed to contain the fire that broke out in the residential area after the gas cylinder exploded.
The fire damaged several houses and destroyed at least five vehicles, police said. Police officers said at least three houses were completely destroyed by the explosion.
Authorities said the three-story building collapsed after a leak from a liquefied petroleum gas tank used for heating, triggered a blast. The tank was installed on the rooftop of one of the homes.
The site where a large gas cylinder exploded in a residential area in Sulaimaniya, Iraq. Reuters
Emergency services still searching for survivors had given an earlier toll of 11, but several hours later the city’s emergency response chief Saman Nader announced “the end of operations,” with 15 bodies found in total.
Local residents had watched on Friday morning as rescue workers, assisted by a backhoe, searched among collapsed bricks and twisted metal.
The explosion shattered the windows and blackened the facade of a neighbouring building.
Bafel Jalal Talabani, head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in power in Sulaimaniyah, said he would finance the reconstruction of the building and those nearby.
A walkway collapsed and set off a stampede in the holy city of Karbala on Tuesday as thousands of Shiites marked one of the most solemn holy days of the year.
Nassif Al Khattabi, the governor of the Iraqi Shiite Holy City of Karbala, has declared three days of mourning for 31 pilgrims who died in a stampede a day earlier.
The UN envoy for Iraq warned on Wednesday that current tensions could deal “a huge blow” in efforts to rebuild a stable and prosperous country following the defeat of the Daesh extremist group.
Sheikh Hamdan said on Twitter, "We extend our sincere condolences and sympathy to the family, relatives, companions and readers of Khalid Al Qashtini, the Iraqi journalist and writer, and the owner of the creative pen, who enriched our Arab world with his publications. With his departure, the Arab media loses a symbol of creativity.”
The authorities said, “Abu Dhabi Police and Abu Dhabi Civil Defence Authority teams are dealing with a fire that broke out this evening at a warehouse in Mussafah industrial area.
"Every year, over 400m tonnes of plastic is produced worldwide - one-third of which is used just once,” said Antonio Guterres. "Every day, the equivalent of over 2,000 garbage trucks full of plastic is dumped into our oceans, rivers, and lakes.”