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Lebanon: Fire breaks out in Zahrani oil facility

The Lebanese army were evacuating the area due to fears the fire would lead to an explosion
Firefighters attempt to put out a fire in the Zahrani oil facility in southern Lebanon (Reuters)

A fire broke out on Monday at a fuel storage tank in the Zahrani oil facility in southern Lebanon, according to local reports. 

Local news channel Al Jadeed TV said the Lebanese army were evacuating the area due to fears the fire would lead to an explosion.

The Lebanese army told Al Jazeera the fuel tank that caught on fire contained benzene. 

“We’re now focusing on clearing residents from the area as we try to put out the fire,” the official said. “The priority now is not to prevent the fire from reaching other tanks.”

It remains unclear what caused the fire as Lebanon continues to be gripped by an energy crisis caused by an economic crisis that saw its currency be devalued by 90%. 

The fire also comes after Lebanon's two main power stations on Saturday were forced to shut down and stop providing electricity after running out of fuel. 

On Sunday, Lebanon's energy minister said power had been restored after the army provided 6,000 kilolitres worth of gas oil to the two power stations. 

Earlier this year, the Zahrani oil facility received 16,000 tonnes of Iraqi oil. The delivery was part of an oil swap deal with Iraq and Lebanon.