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At least 21 killed in fire at refugee camp in Gaza Strip

Officials claim that at least 21 people were killed and many others were injured in an incident involving a fire in a Gaza Strip residential building.

Firefighters spent over an hour trying to put out the flames that ripped through the fourth floor of a residential building on the Jabalia refugee camp’s densely-populated top floor.

Residents were at the party, and witnesses claimed they heard screaming. However, they couldn’t help the people inside the fire because it was so intense.

UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, tweeted that eight children, four women, and one retired UNRWA employee were among those reported to have been killed.

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Ambulances were called to transport the injured to hospitals. Israel, along with Egypt, maintains a blockade against Gaza. It said that it would allow those in need of treatment.

The Gaza Interior Ministry stated that an initial investigation had revealed large quantities of gasoline stored at the location, which fuelled the fire. It is not known how the gasoline ignited.

The scene captured footage shows large crowds outside the building while Hamas officers assess the site.

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Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President, called it a tragedy of national importance and declared that there would be a day for mourning.

Image: Hamas police secure Jabalia refugee camp’s scene of a burning apartment. Pic: AP

Hussein alSheikh, secretary general of the executive committee for the Palestine Liberation Organization, (PLO), stated in a statement that Israel was being urged by the Palestinian Authority to open the Erez crossing to Gaza in order to transport serious cases and to allow them to be treated outside of the enclave.

Benny Gantz, the Israeli defense minister, tweeted that his staff would help with the evacuation of those who were hurt.

Jabalia, one of eight Gaza refugee camps, is home to 2.3 Million people. It is also one of the most densely populated areas in the world.

Gaza, which is ruled over by the militant Palestinian group Hamas, and subject to the crippling Israeli–Egyptian blockage has an energy crisis.

In preparation for winter, people store gasoline and cooking fuel in their homes. House fires were previously caused by gas leaks and candles.

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