Blast near Riyadh plant depot kills 22

An explosion near an industrial building in Saudi Arabia has killed 22 people and injured 111 others, according to reports.

The explosion happened when a fuel tanker crashed into one of the bridges on Khurais Road in the eastern part of Riyadh after an accident. The tanker exploded, causing damage to several nearby buildings and vehicles.

The building which bore the brunt of the explosion was a depot and showroom used by construction equipment distributor Zahid Tractor & Equipment – one of the biggest sellers of Caterpillar equipment in the world.

The Director-General of Civil Defense, Lieutenant General Saad bin Abdullah Al-Tuwaijri, blamed the truck driver’s conduct for the incident in an interview with TV channel Al Ekhbariyah.

According to Saudi Press Agency, he said that the fire erupted as fuel leaked from the tanker and extended more than 300m from the site.

He also told people to stay away from the area, stating that around 10,000 people who had gathered at the scene were exposing themselves to unnecessary risk and were hampering the work of Civil Defence operatives.

He also offered his condolences to the victims’ families.

Khurais Road was also closed off in both directions following the incident, and was not expected to open before Friday.

Kushnoo Akhtara, a 55-year-old Pakistani worker, told the Reuters news agency that he was inside the building at the time of the explosion.

“Furniture, chairs and cabinets blasted into the room I was in,” said Akhtara.

“My brother is still inside under the rubble. There are lots of people in there.”