JEDDAH: Six people were injured on Saturday when a fire caused by an explosion in a storage tank at the main oil refinery in Yemen’s southern port city of Aden spread to a second tank.
The cause of the blast late on Friday is still unknown, but security officials described it as sabotage.
The fire, which also spread to a nearby pipeline, was “the result of an explosion, probably a deliberate act of sabotage,” one said.
“The fire brigade are working to contain the blaze and stop it spreading to the neighboring storage tanks, which are full of oil and diesel” donated by Saudi Arabia, he said.
Another official said security forces had prevented anyone from leaving the site and opened an investigation into the incident. Early indications suggested “an explosion and an act of sabotage” were to blame, he also said.
Aden is under the control of the internationally recognized government, which is backed by the Saudi-led coalition.
It took up residence there after Iran-backed Houthi militias ousted it from the capital, Sanaa, in 2014. Aden’s refinery was damaged the following year in fighting that put it out of operation for more than a year, causing severe fuel shortages and power cuts.
Farther north on Saturday, there were clashes between Houthi and government forces in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, placing more pressure on a fragile UN-brokered truce.
Artillery and machinegun exchanges broke out in the southern part of Hodeidah in early morning before tapering off later in day.
The UN says the cease-fire has largely held since it came into force on Dec. 18 but there have been delays in the agreed pullback of Houthi and government forces.