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Istanbul explosion injures at least seven people

Friday, May 23, 2003

ISTANBUL, Turkey -- A gas explosion at a snack bar in downtown Istanbul killed two people and injured seven Thursday, the Anatolia news agency reported.

Istanbul Governor Muammer Guler said that a leak from a gas canister used to cook food had caused the explosion, which was so powerful that it blew refrigerators onto the street.

The blast occurred in the basement of the Elmas snack bar, located close to the city's crowded Taksim square, and the impact collapsed the floor above. Guler said two employees smelled gas and went down to the basement to check the canisters when the explosion occurred.

Rescuers recovered two bodies from the rubble, Anatolia said. Guler and hospital officials said seven people were injured.

"We thought the world was collapsing on top of us," said Sukru Sogut, a taxi driver who was driving past the snack bar at the time. "Glass came flying toward us," he said. His face had several cuts.

Necmiye Yalcin, another witness, said she saw refrigerators thrown out of the snack bar from the force of the blast.

The blast came just two days after a suicide bomber blew herself up in a cafe in the capital Ankara. One person was injured and the woman, a suspected leftist militant, was killed.

Radical leftist, Kurdish and Islamic groups are active in the country and have carried out bombings in the past.


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