CAIRO -- At least 23 people have died in a huge explosion that tore through a tile factory in Sudan's capital of Khartoum on Tuesday, the government said.
The blaze also injured over 130 people, several critically, the cabinet added, suggesting the death toll from the blaze could rise as burn victims were being treated at local hospitals.
“We felt a huge quake. We rushed to see what was happening and were shocked to find a fire and everyone fleeing,” eyewitness Said Mohammed al-Hassan told The Associated Press.
A gas tanker had abruptly caught fire and exploded, destroying the factory. The government ordered an investigation into the exact cause and what it described as a lack of basic safety measures at a site full of combustible material.
Police official Mohammed al-Khatem Hassan said a “technical mistake” occurred while the fuel truck was unloading cargo.
Video footage on social media showed an explosion launch a ball of fire into the sky, sending workers scrambling for cover. Huge plumes of dense black smoke billowed above the plant. Firefighters cleared the area within a few hours, pulling bodies out on stretchers and leaving the factory a charred ruin.
The government expressed its “deepest condolences” to the families of victims and wished a “swift recovery to all wounded.”
Sudan has suffered from various industrial accidents in recent months, raising concerns about the adequacy of health and safety regulations. Earlier this year, a fire caused partial damage to the presidential palace in Khartoum.