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Sunday, May 16, 1999 Published at 19:11 GMT 20:11 UK

World: Africa

Abidjan oil fire reignites

French specialist teams were called in to fight the original blaze

A fire at Ivory Coast's main oil storage depot in Abidjan broke out again on Sunday, less than 24 hours after the blaze was thought to be extinguished.

Correspondent Mark Doyle: "The fire is now alive and dangerous again"
Local residents said flames were shooting into the sky from the depot and clouds of black smoke were again billowing over the city centre.

An official at the company that owns the depot said the fire had taken hold in the same tank that had burned from Thursday until Saturday.

Fire crews return to scene

It was put out after a two-day effort by firefighters, including a team from France with specialist equipment.

But reports say some petrol left in the tank reignited when it came into contact with the ground which was still hot from the original fire. Fire crews are once again at the scene.

The Ivorian authorities had asked the specialist French team to stay on for a few days to monitor the situation.

The original fire destroyed about 30,000 cubic metres of petroleum products and at one time threatened to spread to a refinery close by.

BBC West Africa correspondent Mark Doyle said Ivorians had been asking why a fuel oil depot situated next to a refinery did not have its own adequate firefighting equipment.

The depot belongs to Ivory Coast's national petroleum storage company, GESTOCI.

It was not immediately clear what started Thursday's blaze, but witnesses said they heard an explosion before the tank, containing super grade gasoline, caught fire.

The fuel depot is situated right next to the main oil refinery, which not only supplies Ivory Coast, but a number of landlocked West African states, including Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad.

The complex contains a total of 14 tanks, each of which can store up to 40 million litres of oil.

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