A massive blast ripped through hundreds of oil tanker trucks parked at a border crossing point between Afghanistan and Iran.
Satellite images, which The EurAsian Times obtained from Planet Labs, showed a trail of devastation left by a ‘chain reaction’ of multiple explosions with all the fuel carriers in the area going up in flames.
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At least 60 people were said to have been injured, according to Reuters. However, Afghan authorities gave a lower count. The incident, said to have been triggered by an exploding tanker, took place within the larger customs terminal at Islam Qala in Afghanistan’s Herat province on February 13, 2021.
The explosion is said to have incinerated more than 500 trucks carrying fuel and natural gas, and columns of smoke could be seen rising from the scene. Multiple satellites caught the blaze from space, with even NASA confirming the visuals.
Situated in the western Herat province of Afghanistan, near the border with Iran, Islam Qala is a major crossing point between Afghanistan and Iran and crucial to the economy of Herat.
It is the official entry by land from neighboring Taybad, Iran. The truck holding area is often packed over its stated capacity, with the trucks carrying imported fuel and natural gas from Iran parked here.
The fire was not extinguished for many days with limited firefighting resources available at the site. The authorities had to shut down power lines in the area, plunging many neighboring towns into darkness. Damages worth at least $60 million are being reported after the explosion.
There is, however, no clarity on what caused the initial explosion with both the Taliban and the Afghan government tight-lipped about the incident. The videos emerging on social media showed charred remains of the vehicles with sporadic fires still burning on the site in the aftermaths of the explosion.
Aftermath of the massive explosion in Afghanistan on the Iranian border.
About 3 to 5 hundred oil tankers exploded following a fire at Islam Qala customs.
It looks like a scene from World War Three.#BREAKING pic.twitter.com/jqEiigKnzV
— Farhang F. Namdar (@FarhangNamdar) February 14, 2021
It’s unclear at this point what consequences this incident could have on the trade between Afghanistan and Iran, with the former having been permitted to import oil and gas products from the latter by the US under special considerations. Any long-term disruption at the border point could affect the local economy.