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Huge oil blaze in India kills 6, injures 150

APTOPIX India Oil Depot Fire
People run to escape smoke and flames rising from an oil depot in Jaipur, India, on Friday. Mustafa Quraishi / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

A huge fire at an Indian oil depot that has killed at least six people and injured 150 will be allowed to burn out as firefighters have little hope of dousing it, officials said Friday.

Another six people are trapped in the depot near the city of Jaipur in the western state of Rajasthan where the fire has been burning for nearly 24 hours since it broke out Thursday evening, officials said.

"The fire has to die down. There is nothing else one can do. There is no other solution or alternative," federal petroleum minister Murli Deora told reporters.

Dense clouds of black smoke billowed out of at least three oil tanks which were ablaze.

The six dead were all workers at the depot.

Thousands of people living near the oil depot have been evacuated, and power supplies to the surrounding areas switched off. Train services on tracks running near the oil depot have also been halted.

Army troops have been deployed to help in the firefighting operations at the depot, 10 miles south of Jaipur, which stores gasoline, kerosene and diesel fuel for several state-owned oil companies.

"The fire is massive. We are finding it a bit difficult to douse it," Deora said.

Government orders inquiry
Sarthak Behuria, the chairman of Indian Oil Corporation, one the companies that stored oil at the depot, said it was expected the stocks to burn out by the evening and firefighters would be able to enter the site by early Saturday, according to Press Trust of India news agency.

Huge explosions were heard before the fire broke out and flames leaped into the sky. The blaze was visible from over 16 miles away.

At least 35 firefighting teams, including some from the Indian capital of New Delhi, 220 miles to the north, were sent to battle the flames.

An inquiry has also been ordered to determine the cause of the accident, a government statement said.

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