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Explosion at Gas Station in N.Y.

September 26, 2000

EAST ISLIP, N.Y. (AP) _ A minivan slammed into a gas tanker outside a gas station, triggering an explosion that shook houses several blocks away and shot flames more than 100 feet in the air. The minivan’s driver was killed.

The tanker’s driver, Ergin Abdullah, had just pulled out of a gas station on the southern edge of Long Island on Monday evening when his tanker was hit by a minivan, police said.

The minivan’s driver, Hilde Hauswirth, was killed. The 62-year-old nurse’s aide was heading to work when the accident occurred. Abdullah escaped serious injury when he jumped out of his vehicle at impact.

Roads were wet and visibility was poor at the time of the accident, but police did not say what or who was to blame for the crash. However, Abdullah, 43, was charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, police said.

The vehicles burst into flames, scorching nearby vehicles and buildings. Electricity poles were damaged, knocking out power in the area. By early Tuesday morning, the blaze had burned itself out.

The gas station did not catch fire, but its facade, signs and pumps were scorched.

The area around the station was evacuated, but residents were soon allowed back into their homes. Residents said they heard an explosion that sounded like a plane crash and felt their houses tremble.

Part of the highway was expected to be closed until noon Tuesday, police said.

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