Explosion rocks Gibraltar port

A fuel tank exploded close to a cruise ship in the port of Gibraltar.

Gibraltar: A fuel tank exploded and caught fire close to a cruise ship in the port of the British territory of Gibraltar on Tuesday, injuring at least two people, police said.

The blast was probably caused by a spark from welding operations although police are not ruling out any possibility including that of an attack, Chief Minister Peter Caruana told Radio Gibraltar.

Flames could be seen pouring across the harbour from the tank, which contained diesel to refuel ships, with dense black smoke billowing across the port as firefighters directed jets of water at the blaze.

The tank was close to the giant cruise ship Independence of the Seas which had arrived in Gibraltar Tuesday morning and had been due to leave at 4:00 pm (1400 GMT).

"The lid of the tank was blown off by the blast," a police spokesman said. "Two people were injured, one very seriously, and both are in hospital."

He said the possibility of another explosion could not be ruled out.

Caruana described it as a "serious incident" but said there was "no cause for concern."

"Once it was established that there were welding operations going on, on top of the very tank at the time it exploded makes that a frontrunner for a likely explanation, but all possibilities are being kept open," he told Radio Gibraltar.

"The police are obviously keeping their minds open to the possibility of maybe a security incident. It`s looking unlikely but all possibilities are being looked into if only to be excluded."

The public was being advised to keep away from the area and keep their windows closed due to the smoke.

Gibraltar is a 6.5-square-kilometre British territory of around 30,000 people off the tip of southern Spain.

Madrid ceded it to London in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht, but it has long fuelled tensions between the two countries.

Bureau Report

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