AL-MUKALLA: At least two people were killed and more than 90 wounded in an explosion at a gas station on Saturday afternoon in the Houthi-controlled central city of Bayda, a health official told Arab News.
A video circulating on social media showed a large ball of fire emanating from the gas station as panicked drivers and pedestrians fled the scene.
“At least 20 critically wounded people were taken to hospitals in Sanaa,” said the health official, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.
Houthi media did not mention what triggered the explosion, but the official said that the gas station was built recently and is part of a large fuel and gas black market, which has grown in recent years inside Houthi-controlled areas.
“Oil and gas stations have arbitrarily spread inside Bayda,” the official said.
Yemeni activists and journalists on social media expressed shock and horror over the images of the explosion.
“This is a mini scene of the Beirut port explosion,” Sami Noman, a Yemeni journalist from the southern city of Taiz, said on Twitter on Sunday, referring to mega explosions that rocked the Lebanese capital in August last year.
In the neighboring Ibb province, a family of four was killed on Saturday when an explosion ripped through their small house, local media and residents said.
Al-Sharyae newspaper reported that a grenade inside the pocket of a heavily armed Houthi terrorist exploded, killing him and his sister and her two children in Ibb’s Thi Al-Sefal District.
Heavy fighting between the Yemeni government forces and the Iran-backed Houthis broke out on Saturday night in the Red Sea city of Hodeidah as the UN warned against attacks on civilian targets.
State media state that the Joint Forces, an umbrella term for three major military units in the country’s west coast, killed a number of Houthis — including a field leader called Abu Ibrahim Al-Dailami — and wounded many others after repelling their incursion into the Kilo 16 area of Hodeidah province.
Sporadic fighting and shelling has claimed the lives of dozens of civilians and fighters on both sides in recent months despite warring factions’ promises to adhere to the Stockholm Agreement.
The UN has said that a surge in fighting in Durihimi and Hays since mid-January had displaced more than 100 families and destroyed farms and houses.
The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen Auke Lootsma said in a statement: “The conflict continues to exert misery on millions of lives. An immediate end to hostilities is urgently needed to allow humanitarians to conduct needs assessments and provide crucial medical support to wounded civilians and material support to those who have been displaced and lost their livelihoods.”