Burma blasts kill 17, injure 80


Burma rescue workers search for bodies from a large unexplained explosion and fire in Yangon on December 29, 2011. At least 15 people were killed and dozens more injured in an explosion and fire in Burma's commercial hub and former capital Yangon early on Thursday, officials and witnesses said.


Soe Than Win

Several blasts in Burma’s (Myanmar) largest city, Yangon, killed at least 17 and injured 80 Thursday morning, local police said.

A blast at an industrial district in Yangon killed at least 12 men and 5 women. Witnesses originally told Reuters as many as 50 were killed after a fire at a chemical storage warehouse caused a succession of blasts.

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Firefighters from all parts of the city of 4.4 million were at the scene, witnesses told reporters. At least three firemen were killed and an additional 30 injured, according to the Agence France-Presse.

Local authorities confirmed the fire started in a state-owned warehouse and quickly spread to homes and buildings, many of them wooden, the Associated Press reported.

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It was not immediately clear what started the fire and police officials say they are looking into what caused the explosions.

Bomb blasts are not uncommon in Burma. The conflict-torn country has been hit by several, mostly-minor, bomb blasts in recent years blamed on armed exile groups or ethnic minority fighters.