updated 2/8/2007 5:23:20 PM ET 2007-02-08T22:23:20

Welding equipment touched off an explosion at a West Bank gas station Thursday, killing at least eight people and wounded 17, police and hospital officials said.

Firefighters put out the blaze more than an hour after the afternoon blast, but rescue workers were still digging through the rubble late into the night.

Mohammed Eida, a Health Ministry official, said the bodies of eight people were recovered, one of them a 7-year-old child. He said 17 people were wounded, including four in serious condition and more bodies could still be pulled from the wreckage.

Investigators said the casualties occurred when a welder’s oxygen tank exploded and ignited a gasoline tank.

Associated Press Television News pictures showed a large crater at the site and clouds of smoke hanging in the air. The Israeli army said it offered help from its rescue and medical teams but the offer was declined.

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