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Gaza fire killed 21 people from same family during birthday party

21 people were killed in a house fire at a party in Gaza Strip’s refugee camp. They belonged to the same family.

As thousands of mourners walked the streets of Gaza carrying shrouded bodies, some even eight children, they joined a funeral procession.

Members of the Abu Raya family were among those killed in yesterday’s blaze at the Jabaliya refugee camps, four-storey building.

The bodies of the victims were wrapped in Palestinian flags, and then taken to a mosque for prayers. After that, they were buried in a military funeral at the Cemetery of Martyrs east of refugee camp.

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Officials from Hamas-run Gaza claimed that an initial investigation had revealed large quantities of petrol were stored at the location, which may have fuelled the fire. According to the Interior Ministry, it is not known how the petrol was ignited.

The Abu Raya family lived in the top floor apartment.

Mohammed Abu Raya, a family spokesperson told the Associated Press that extended family members had gathered to celebrate the birthday of one child and the return of an adult from Egypt.

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“No one came out alive”

Abu Raya refuted the assertion that petrol stored in tanks was responsible for the fire. He stated that furniture made of flammable materials was more likely than petrol to have accelerated flames.

He said, “The tragedy was that no one emerged alive to tell us what the truth is.”

“I don’t believe it was stored gasoline.”

Image: Palestinians gathered in front of the structure where the deadly fire brokeout. Pictures: AP

According to Mohammed Jadallah and Mr Abu Raya, the victims were from three generations. They included a couple, their five children, one daughter-in-law, and two sons.

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President, declared it a national tragedy. He also declared a day for mourning.

Image: Hamas officers protect the scene at Jabalia refugee camps of the burning apartment. Pic: AP

Jabalia is one eight refugee camps in Gaza. It is home to over 2.3 million people, and is also one of the most densely populated regions on earth.

Under the Israeli-Egyptian blockade, Gaza is facing a severe energy crisis.

In preparation for winter, people store petrol and cooking fuel in their homes. House fires can also be started by candles or gas leaks.

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