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12.12.2005
  British Oil-fire Cloud Hits Mainland Europe
Possible terrorist bombing of a fuel depot in London sunday resulted in the inferno raging Monday while a huge oily smoke cloud from the blaze drifted over northern France and is headed toward Spain. The blasts Sunday, which injured 43 people, sent balls of fire into the sky and blew the doors off nearby houses, also contributed to a surge in oil prices to above $60 Monday.

The explosions came just four days after an al-Qaida videotape appeared on the Internet calling for attacks on facilities carrying oil that it claims has been stolen from Muslims in the Middle East.

Chief Superintendent Jeremy Alford addmitted Monday that they had not even entered the sight yet. "When we get into the site ... we'll treat it as a scene which may be a crime. We'll do full forensics." He does make the statement that based on what they've seen, nothing, "there is no indication at this point that is anything other than an accident."

"We are in uncharted territory. This is the largest fire of this kind that the U.K. and Europe have dealt with," said Roy Wilsher, chief fire officer in Hertfordshire county.

The smoke cloud has drifted over northwestern France and was expected to reach Spain within 48 hours, France's national weather service said Monday.

Most of the 2,000 people evacuated from their homes Sunday were still waiting to return, some biding their time with children and pets at a recreation center.

 
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