Disasters & Accidents

Gaza refugee camp fire kills 22

(Update 1: upgrades death toll, adds detail)

Gaza, Nov 18 (EFE).- At least 22 members of the same extended family, including 15 children and three women, died after a fire engulfed a residential building in a Gaza Strip refugee camp, medical and government sources said Friday.

The reportedly accidental fire on Thursday spread rapidly through the building at the Jabalia refugee camp in the north of the Gaza Strip during a party to celebrate the return of a relative from Egypt.

The flames were fueled by large quantities of gasoline being stored on the premises.

Gaza’s interior ministry on Thursday reported 21 deaths in the fire, but the department and the Indonesian Hospital in the territory reported Friday that another victim had died from their injuries.

The 22 victims were buried on Friday following a funeral that attracted large crowds to a local mosque.

There were a total of 19 coffins, three of which contained the bodies of women buried alongside their young children.

Thousands of Gazans attended the burial and used the occasion to chant slogans against Israel, which as well as Egypt maintains an air, sea and land blockade of the impoverished Gaza Strip.

The Islamist Hamas movement, which has de facto ruled Gaza since 2007, expressed its condolences to relatives of the victims and called on Israel to end the blockade.

It was the deadliest fire to occur in the impoverished Gaza Strip in years.

The 400-square-kilometer strip of land on the Mediterranean is home to some 2 million people.

The Palestinian National Authority, which governs parts of the occupied West Bank, has ordered flags to be flown at half mast on official buildings as a gesture of mourning. EFE


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