Egypt says looting attempt caused oil pipeline fire that killed seven

Firefighters spent three hours battling to extinguish blaze

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At least seven people were killed in a fire in a Nile Delta village on Wednesday evening, hours after the attempted theft from a pipeline caused a gas leak in the area.

Health ministry spokesman Ahmed Megahed said the fire in the Itay El Barud district sent at least 16 other people to nearby hospitals for treatment.

One local resident told Reuters a hospital in the area was packed and that there appeared to be more casualties than reported.

The smell of gas was everywhere, he said.

Abdel-Moneim Hafez, head of the Petroleum Pipelines Company, said the robbery attempt occurred on Wednesday afternoon.

"As a result of an unknown source of flame, there was a flare in the leaked product following the accident," state news agency Mena quoted him as saying.

Technical teams hd rushed to the scene after the attempted theft and controlled the leak, Mr Hafez said.

Authorities said it took firefighters at least three hours to extinguish the blaze, which damaged more than a dozen vehicles.

Footage posted online showed flames rising into the sky and people trying to put out the fire.

Other footage showed people trying to collect the leaked fuel before the fire broke out.

Police arrested one person on suspicion of trying to siphon from the pipeline, Beheira Governor Hisham Amna said.

The pipeline moves fuel from the Mediterranean city of Alexandria to Egypt’s capital Cairo.