A fuel tanker truck explosion on the Iran-Afghanistan border on Saturday caused a chain reaction of blasts so large it could be observed from space.
According to the Associated Press, “Two explosions at the border crossing were powerful enough to be spotted from space by NASA satellites. One blast erupted around 1:10 p.m. Afghan time (0840 GMT), the next around a half hour later at 1:42 p.m. local (0912 GMT).”
— Jason Brodsky (@JasonMBrodsky) February 13, 2021
Iranian state TV is reporting that over 500 trucks transporting natural gas and fuel caught fire as the explosions intensified.
The blaze continued through the day at the Islam Qala border crossing, which is among the busiest border and commercial transit routes connecting Iran and Afghanistan.
While multiple injured have been rushed to the hospital, emergency workers have struggled to assess casualties given the blaze’s intensity made the whole area difficult to access.
It’s as yet unclear whether the fuel convoy was subject to attack, or if the fire ignited accidentally.
The AP notes, however, that “The road between the city of Herat and Islam Qala is a dangerous stretch of highway that Afghans rarely travel at night for fear of attacks by criminal gangs. Taliban insurgents also travel freely in the area.”
Afghan officials say at least 8 people have been injured after explosion hits tankers at Eslam Qaleh customs post in #Afghanistan Herat province near border with #Iran. Massive damage is also reported. Cause of incident is still unknown. pic.twitter.com/HbNJmfYnRY
— Habib Abdolhossein (@HAbdolhossein) February 13, 2021
And further, AP explained, “The United States allows Afghanistan to import fuel and oil from Iran as part of a special concession that exempts Kabul from sanctions against Iran. Satellite photos taken Saturday showed dozens of tankers parked at the border crossing before the explosion.”
Currently, the Iranian Army has been called upon to join emergency crews attempting to put out the blaze, which reportedly also destroyed buildings at the border crossing