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2 killed, 2 injured in large blast at Ashdod metalwork factory

Rescue workers sift rubble, looking for further casualties after explosion said caused by workers welding gas tank; factory was operating without license due to safety failings

Firefighters and police at the scene of a suspected gas explosion at a factory in Ashdod, November 17, 2020 (Flash90)
Firefighters and police at the scene of a suspected gas explosion at a factory in Ashdod, November 17, 2020 (Flash90)

Two workers were killed and two injured in a suspected gas explosion at a metalwork factory in the coastal city of Ashdod.

According to Hebrew-language media reports, the two workers killed were men in their 30s or 40s. The Ynet news site reported that one was a Palestinian from the West Bank and the second man was a Turkish citizen.

The Walla news site reported that an initial investigation by police determined the blast occurred while workers were welding a gas tank.

The injured were taken to Assuta Ashdod Medical Center and were said to be in moderate to serious condition. One was taken by ambulance and the second was hospitalized after arriving at the medical center by car.

Firefighters and police at the scene of a suspected gas explosion at a factory in Ashdod, November 17, 2020 (Flash90)

Pictures from the scene showed a building that appeared to be almost completely flattened as rescue workers searched for possible further casualties.

According to the Ynet news site, the factory was operating without a license after its certification was revoked due to safety issues.

Hezi Schwartzman, head of the occupational safety directorate at the Labor Ministry, told the outlet that the factory had been operating unlawfully for three years after safety deficiencies were found.

“This is a fatal incident. Inspectors are at the scene with the police and emergency services. The reasons for the explosion will be fully investigated,” Schwartzman said.

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