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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Fire hits Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon, three killed

At least three people were killed in a fire that erupted in Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon.

Firefighters put out a fire at a camp for Syrian refugees near the town of Qab Elias in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. Hassan Abdallah / Reuters
Firefighters put out a fire at a camp for Syrian refugees near the town of Qab Elias in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. Hassan Abdallah / Reuters

BEKAA VALLEY // A fire tore through a camp for Syrian refugees in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, killing three people on Sunday, officials said.

Flames and thick clouds of black smoke rose from the site near the town of Qab Elias, around a hour's drive east of Beirut, and at least one explosion was seen in footage broadcast by Lebanon's MTV.

Reuters TV footage showed little was left by the blaze as a fire truck doused down the still smouldering ground. A Syrian refugee said many of the people living at the camp had fled to Lebanon from the Raqqa area of Syria.

"We've started the assessment as to how many tents have been damaged. As soon as the assessment is done we will provide the families with all the help they need," UNHCR spokeswoman Dana Sleiman said.

"Apparently it started with a cooking stove. We are waiting to confirm that."

The Red Cross said that about 700 refugees were evacuated from the camp, in which at least six people were wounded. An AFP correspondent said Red Cross volunteers and firefighters were helping wounded refugees out of the camp to receive treatment.

Residents of nearby villages were using their own trucks and tractors to bring tanks of water to help extinguish the blaze.

Zafer al-Nakhlawi, a Lebanese who lives in Qab Elias, said he came to the camp to help firefighters put out the blaze.

"There are only three tents left standing out of the camp's 93 tents. Part of a nearby wheat field was also burned," Nakhlawi said.

The blaze came two days after clashes in two refugee camps in Lebanon's northeast left a young girl dead and seven Lebanese soldiers wounded.

Four suicide bombers detonated explosives as the Lebanese army raided the Al-Nur camp near the border town of Arsal on Friday, the armed forces said.

The girl, whose parents are both refugees, was killed and three soldiers wounded.

A second raid on the nearby Al-Qariya camp wounded three Lebanese soldiers, the army said.

Lebanon is hosting at least 1 million registered Syrian refugees, many of them living in tented settlements scattered around the country. The government says there are about 1.5 million Syrians in the country.

* Reuters and Agence France-Presse