At least 11 people have died and up to 58 others have been injured after a massive fire broke out in the Nusseirat refugee camp in the besieged Gaza Strip on Thursday March 5th.
Among the dead are at least four children, four women and two men. The age and gender of one victim is unknown. Among the named victims are youth Ziyad Zakri Hussein, and a mother and her two children: Iman Abu Mahrouq died with her young daughters, Lian and Manal Hasan Hussein.
There are fears that more bodies could be found in the ruins, and as up to 14 people have been critically injured, it is expected that the death toll will continue to increase.
There are conflicting claims about the origin of the fire, but most say the fire started in a bakery after a gas explosion. A gas cylinder explosion caused the devastating fire in the al-Sabra neighbourhood on February 1st 2018 in which 7 people died. This time several sources report that it wasn’t a gas cylinder that exploded at the bakery, but a pressurized balloon used for gas storage.
The fire rapidly spread to multiple neighbouring buildings and parked vehicles on the street, and according to multiple reports, more explosions followed. Some of these would have been the gasoline tanks of the vehicles exploding, although gas cylinders in the other destroyed buildings could have also exploded.
As electricity in the tiny coastal enclave is very limited, often six hours a day in recent weeks – itself an improvement – gas cylinders are essential for both businesses and homes. This is a direct result of the siege by the Israeli occupation, and kept up on the southern border by Egypt’s regime.
Beyond the bakery, at least three residential buildings, four small factories, two restaurants, an institute for the handicapped, a carpenter’s shop, 50 street stalls and 22 vehicles were destroyed.
Alternative claim for the origin of the fire is that a fuel tanker would have exploded. If it did, it could have been caused by the fire origin from the bakery – which had, according to an unverified claim made in social media, as much three tons of gas in storage.