DIWANIYAH, Iraq (AFP) -At least 36 people were killed when an old fuel pipeline caught fire near the southern Iraqi city of Diwaniyah.
“We have six bodies in two city hospitals and more than 30 charred bodies are still at the site of the explosion,” said Hamid Taathi, head of Diwaniyah’s health department.
A defence ministry official said the pipeline had not been used since 2003 but still contained some fuel and that local residents often cut holes in it to siphon off petrol, which currently is in short supply.
“Today also they did the same thing when the explosion was set off,” he said on condition of anonymity Tuesday.
Earlier Diwaniyah local councillor Ghanim Dahash blamed saboteurs for the blast on the pipeline in Afak district which used to carry petrol (gasoline) from southern Iraqi oil fields to the capital.
Diwaniyah was the scene of violent clashes between the Iraqi army and militia fighters from radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army on Monday.