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Explosion hits Gulf facility in Puerto Rico

Last Updated: Friday, October 23, 2009 - 17:59

Catano: An explosion at a Gulf gasoline facility on Friday rocked a neighbourhood outside Puerto Rico`s capital, causing at least some minor injuries and forcing evacuations as firefighters raced to prevent additional blasts.
A column of black smoke and flames were rising from the Caribbean Petroleum Corp, a gasoline warehouse and distribution centre on San Juan`s bay that owns the Gulf brand in Puerto Rico. Authorities said the cause and the scale of the damage were not immediately clear.

FBI agents on the scene were among those investigating what caused the blast around 0430 GMT, according to police chief Jose Figueroa Sancha.

A police helicopter that flew over the area confirmed that 11 of more than 30 tanks had exploded, Figueroa Sancha said. Firefighters were planning to chill the remaining tanks in an effort to keep them from exploding. Dozens of fuel trucks were also being moved from the area.

"This is about containment," firefighter Brenda Rodriguez said.

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said the agency put a temporary flight restriction in place over the area because of smoke.

Figueroa Sancha said it would likely take several days to put out the gasoline-fuelled fire.

Authorities were evacuating people from communities downwind from the thick smoke.

Bureau Report

First Published: Friday, October 23, 2009 - 17:59
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