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Death Toll Rises to 122 in Explosion, Fire in Southern Egypt

November 2, 1994

DURUNKA, Egypt (AP) _ Flood waters carried burning oil from burst pipelines to an adjacent town today where the fire spread, killing at least 122 people. Floods elsewhere in southern Egypt killed at least 29 others.

The pipelines at a government-run depot caught fire when flooding collapsed a bridge onto the pipes, an engineer at the depot told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The fire in turn set off an explosion.

The flood transported the burning oil to the village of Durunka, where flames spread through the town of 18,000.

All nine tanks at the depot caught fire, and the blaze was still raging more than 12 hours after the explosion. The depot stores 15,000 tons of petroleum for use by the Egyptian army in emergencies.

Witnesses in Durunka, 200 miles south of Cairo, said the flames shot 40 feet into the air. Residents were crying and wailing in front of burned-out buildings today.

Kadry Abu-Hussein, head of the emergency operation office in Assiut, said 122 bodies were recovered in Durunka from houses razed by the fire.

Flooding elsewhere in Assiut province killed at least 29 people, and deaths also were reported in the neighboring province of Sohag, but no figures were immediately available.

Thousands were left homeless and dozens reported injured in both the fire and flooding.

Hundreds of people made homeless by the fire and floods gathered outside the governor’s office in the nearby city of Assiut, demanding shelter and emergency provisions. Kadry said authorities were opening schools and government buildings until permanent shelters could be set up.

Assiut is a hotbed of Muslim radicals, but it appeared the explosion was set off by natural causes.

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