Tue, 06 Dec 2022

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GAZA, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of Gazans attended on Friday the funeral for 21 members of a family who died in a massive residential building fire in the Palestinian enclave.

During the day, shops and markets were closed in most parts of the Gaza Strip while some local residents canceled their weddings to express condolences to the families of the victims.

The 21 people, including seven children, lost their lives in the massive fire on Thursday evening during a family gathering in their house in Jabalia refugee camp in the north of the Gaza Strip.

In the West Bank, the Palestinian flags were flown at half-mast at the official Palestinian institutions and foreign embassies or diplomatic missions, according to official sources.

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In a statement sent to Xinhua, the Ministry of Interior in Gaza said those who were killed in the fire belonged to one family, adding the fire did not spread to the surrounding buildings.

Preliminary investigations indicated that a large quantity of fuel stored inside the house might have led to the fire, according to the ministry statement.

In the afternoon, thousands of Gazans, including women and children, as well as representatives of some Palestinian political factions, such as Hamas, Fatah, and Islamic Jihad, attended the mass funeral in Beit Lahia cemetery.

Jamil Alyan, a senior Hamas leader, said at the funeral that a factor leading to the tragedy is the lack of basic needs, mainly electricity and fuel, in Gaza under years of the Israeli blockade.

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a statement describing the incident as a "national catastrophe," calling on all responsible parties to pool all possible resources to help the families of the victims.

Mohammed al-Sayed, an eyewitness from Jabalia, told Xinhua that the victims had been trapped in the fire for "more than an hour."

Late Thursday, eyewitnesses said ambulances and civil defense personnel worked for hours to control the fire, while local security and medical sources said more than 30 were injured in the fire.

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Mourning for the victims of the fire, Mariam al-Halabi, a Gazan resident, called on the local authorities to carry out a thorough investigation into the exact causes.

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