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Explosion Hits Turkey Gas Facility

July 28, 2002

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ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ Thick black fumes shot out from a liquefied petroleum gas facility Sunday after explosions sparked a fire at the unit in northwestern Turkey, officials said. At least three people were missing, but there were no immediate reports of deaths of serious injuries.

Three of the five tanks at the Akcagaz facility near the city of Izmit exploded, the city’s deputy governor Ummet Kandogan said.

The initial explosion occurred and others soon followed, setting off a major fire that spread to at least seven houses near the facility, he added. Those fires, however, were quickly brought under control and authorities evacuated 5,000 people from the area as a precaution, the official said.

CNN-Turk television showed high thick black fumes billowing out of the facility.

The cause of the explosions was not immediately known, officials said.

Those missing include a night watchman at the facility, the Anatolia news agency reported. Private NTV television said some people received minor injuries from flying glass.

The facility is close to Tupras, Turkey’s largest oil refinery, but the refinery _ which shot into flames in 1999 after a devastating earthquake in the region _ was not in any immediate danger, Kandogan said.

Tupras spokeswoman Seval Kizilcan told Anatolia that office windows at the refinery were shattered from the impact of the explosions.

Firefighters had been dispatched from neighboring regions, including Istanbul, to help bring the fire under control.

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