Large blaze at refinery in Iranian capital

Smoke rises at an oil refinery in Tehran, Iran, June 2, 2021. (Photo: Reuters)
Smoke rises at an oil refinery in Tehran, Iran, June 2, 2021. (Photo: Reuters)
TEHRAN — A fire raged Wednesday at a southern Tehran oil refinery after a leak in a liquefied gas line triggered an explosion, the capital’s crisis team chief told state television.اضافة اعلان

Intense flames and thick clouds of black smoke could be seen reaching high into the sky from across Tehran, AFP correspondents said.

An “accident was caused by a leak from an emergency liquefied gas line,” triggering “an explosion which caused the start of the fire,” Tehran crisis team head Mansour Darajati said.

Darajati said that the fire had begun at around 7:30 pm (1500 GMT), and that there were “fortunately no deaths at this stage”.

The blaze was still ongoing at 10:45 pm but was less intense, according to AFP reporters near the site.

The refinery is situated in an industrial zone, but also lies a few hundred meters (yards) from people’s homes.

“The fire is huge... some of the storage tanks are burning,” a state television reporter near the scene had said.

“The firefighters are surrounding the area and trying to control the fire so that it does not reach the other tanks,” he added.

State television said 18 oil reservoirs had caught fire.

The stricken refinery has been operational since 1968, has a capacity of 250,000 barrels per day and is owned by the Tehran Oil Refining Company, according to state news agency IRNA. 

A spokesman for the company dismissed “all speculation centring on sabotage at the refinery”, according to the state television’s Telegram channel.

“The accident was caused by a technical problem, and we are currently in the process of controlling the fire,” he added.

The blaze comes several hours after the Iranian navy announced that one of its biggest vessels -- the Kharg, a fleet replenishment ship -- had sunk in the Gulf of Oman after a fire.

The cause of that blaze has not been publicly identified.

Industrial accidents are common in Iran.

On May 23, nine people were injured in a blast at a plant producing explosive materials in central Iran, local media reported, while three days later, a pipeline explosion at a petrochemical complex near Iran’s Gulf coast left one dead.

Meanwhile, Iran views arch-rival Israel as the top suspect behind two incidents in the past year at its nuclear sites that Tehran has branded acts of sabotage.

Some see the various events as the result of attacks by Israeli forces, while others consider US sanctions — which almost completely isolate Iran from the rest of the world, complicating the maintenance of industrial facilities — as a more likely cause.

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