1 Pinoy killed, 11 hurt in Riyadh blast - DFA
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (3rd UPDATE) - A gas tanker truck exploded on a main road in the Saudi capital on Thursday, November 1, killing at least 22 people including one Filipino, and injuring about 111 others and leaving a trail of destruction, officials said.
In a tweet, Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesperson Raul Hernandez confirmed the death. Although in an interview with Rappler, Vice Consul Redentor Genodiva of the Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia said they are still verifying the report, and have sent a team to assist a relative in confirming the victim's identity.
Update- PH Embassy in Saudi: 1 Filipino was killed in Riyadh fuel truck explosion, 9 in hospitals, 3 discharged. Embassy continues to check.— Raul S. Hernandez (@dfaspokesperson) November 1, 2012
Hernandez quoting a report from the Philippine embassy in Saudi Arabia said the blast has injured 11 Filipinos so far. Eight of the injured Filipinos remain in hospitals while 3 have been discharged. The Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia told Rappler that 4 of the 11 are employees of the Zahid Tractor Company an establishment located just across the place where the incident occurred.
In an interview aired on ABS-CBN's TV Patrol, Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ezzedin Tago said the embassy is helping the victims but did not identify them. It was not immediately known if the two of the injured Filipinos were in the truck or in a building that collapsed following the explosion.
The lorry veered into a bridge pylon at a junction on Khurays Road in Riyadh at about 7:30 am, causing a gas leak that spread out and then burst into flames, destroying nearby cars and a building, the officials told AFP.
A bus that had been gutted by the fire stood idle on the flyover, with witnesses saying that the vehicle had been transporting workers whose fate remained unknown.
Another truck fell off the bridge due to the impact of the explosion, the witnesses said.
Amateur video footage posted on the Internet showed thick black smoke billowing from different spots around the flyover whose pylons were also damaged.
"The death toll of the gas truck fire in Khurays has increased to 22 people, in addition to 111 wounded," a civil defence official said. The initial number of casualties was put at 14.
An AFP photographer at the scene reported huge damage in the area with dozens of cars burned. He said he saw civil defense personnel carrying two bodies "completely charred."
A security official told AFP that a number of people perished in the explosion but did not give a toll.
"There are fatalities," the official told AFP requesting anonymity.
Civil defense spokesman in Riyadh, Mohammed al-Hammadi, said the explosion took place after gas leaked from the tank of the lorry, according to SPA state news agency.
"The explosion and fire happened after leaked gas filled the area. Huge damage happened, in addition to many traffic collisions," he said, adding there were fatalities without specifying how many.
Hammadi said a nearby show yard of construction machinery was severely damaged by the explosion.
The security official had said earlier that a traffic accident had occurred at a junction on Khurays Road, one of the city's main arteries. - with reports from Agence France-Presse
For a related story, read: Injured Pinoys in Riyadh now stable - embassy