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Five die in huge India oil blaze

A fuel leak is suspected to be the cause of the fire

A massive fire at an oil depot in the western Indian state of Rajasthan has killed at least five people and injured 150 others, officials say.

Army soldiers have joined fire-fighters to put out the fire and rescue the trapped people at the depot in Jaipur.

People near the depot have been evacuated, officials said.

The depot, located 16km (10 miles) south of the tourist city of Jaipur, stocks gasoline, kerosene and diesel fuel for state-owned oil companies.

It is unclear what caused the fire, which broke out on Thursday evening, and it was still raging early on Friday, officials said.

Black smoke billowed out of the oil depot owned by the state-owned Indian Oil Corporation as the fire spread and engulfed adjoining factories, reports say.

'Massive'

Huge explosions were heard before the fire broke out, and the blaze was visible from over 25km (16 miles) away, a senior official said.

"The fire is massive. We are finding it difficult to douse it," Petroleum Minister Murli Deora said.

A senior police official BL Soni said that army soldiers had moved in to help fire-fighters rescue "six people still trapped in fire".

Mr Soni told the Associated Press news agency that six bodies had been pulled out of the fire and nearly 150 people had been admitted to nearby hospitals with burn and other injuries.

Reports say nearly three dozen fire fighting teams were trying to douse the flames which burned through the night.

Oil depot fire in Rajasthan
Soldiers are helping fire fighters to douse the flames

"We are asking for expert advice to help us control the fire," Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said.

Some reports said that a leak in a pipeline could have caused the explosion and blaze, but they could not be confirmed.

Indian Oil Corporation Chairman Sarthak Behuria said the fire broke out at a petrol storage tank and quickly spread.

Ten people were killed in an oil platform fire off the west coast of India in July 2005 - the fire was caused by an oil rig colliding with the platform.

The platform, in India's most important oil field, was completely destroyed in the fire.



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