Fuel Truck Explodes in Oil Refinery in Israeli City of Haifa

A fuel truck exploded Tuesday in an oil refinery in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, causing a large fire, TV and radio reports said.

It was not immediately clear if there were casualties.

"There was an explosion, that is the first report we got. Forces that arrived there said there is a big fire in the area," said Gershon Zalderman, a chief firefighter in the area. "The fire is in a petrochemical plant adjacent to the oil refinery."

Firefighters and rescue workers are working now to prevent the fire from spreading, a scenario that Zalderman said could be extremely dangerous. It was unclear if the explosion occurred in a fuel tanker or in one of the plant's buildings, he added.

Israel Radio quoted rescue workers as saying there were no casualties in the explosion or fire. Israel Radio further reported that it seemed the explosion was caused by a problem in the plant and not by Palestinian militants who have carried out several bombings in the past two years, including placing a bomb on a diesel fuel tanker.

A small fire that erupted in the area quickly turned into a large fire and all the drivers who were lining up to load their tankers with fuel were evacuated, said a tanker driver who only gave his name as Herzl. He said he did not hear an explosion before seeing the fire.

"Now there is a large smokescreen in the area," Herzl told Israel Radio.