Istanbul fireworks factory blast kills 20

A031685418.jpgISTANBUL – At least 20 people were killed and 117 were injured on Thursday when an explosion ripped through an Istanbul building that housed an illegal fireworks factory, the city governor’s office said.

Television footage showed debris from the building strewn through the streets of the industrial district of Davutpasa.

“There was a furnace near where the (fireworks) were stored. There is the issue of that furnace exploding,” state-run Anatolian news agency quoted Governor Muammer Guler as saying.

“One of the furnaces could have also exploded on a lower floor (of the building) where there was a sock and paint factory,” he said.

The explosion originated with a fire on the building’s fourth floor, Guler said. Several of those killed were bystanders in the street watching the blaze.

There were more than 130 workshops and offices in the building complex where the blast occurred.

“While we were trying to look at the scene after the first explosion, everything tumbled down with a second blast. Everywhere was filled with dust, smoke and darkness,” Rasit Sicimoglu, who survive with slight injuries, told Anatolian.

At least six of the 20 dead had been pulled out of the rubble from the building that partially collapsed under the force of the blast, Guler said, adding that nobody alive remained under the debris.

There were fears immediately after the blast that a bomb might be to blame. Various radical groups ranging from Kurdish separatists to far-left militants operate in Turkey.

Six people were killed and dozens injured in a blast in the southeast Turkish city of Diyarbakir earlier this month that authorities blamed on separatist militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

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