Five die in pool of burning oil in Kuwait

April 26, 1991|By New York Times News Service

AL AHMADI, Kuwait -- At least five men, including two British journalists, were killed here Wednesday afternoon when, apparently disoriented by clouds of smoke and spreading ground fires, they drove their vehicles off the road into a pool of burning oil.

In a sequence made possible by the chaotic conditions of oil field and battlefield, a Canadian firefighter drove his truck past the burning pool and saw the burned-out shell of the first vehicle, a compact sedan carrying the journalists.

But he did not realize that it was a new wreck and continued toward town. A few minutes later, a pumper truck and a water tanker also strayed off the road and into the pool, killing the occupants.

The Financial Times identified the two journalists as David Thomas, 37, the paper's natural resources editor, and Alan Harper, 24, a staff photographer who had arrived in Kuwait this week.

Oil field authorities declined to identify the others, but the tanker truck driver was an employee of Hussein Nassr, a Saudi company.

The men in the pumper truck were employees of Dowell-Schlumberger, a Paris-based oil services company. Two were believed to have been in that truck, but some reports said there may have been three. All the oil field workers were said to be Indian.

The pool that burned Wednesday had been noticed by workers for some time. Firefighters said it had probably caught fire when the winds shifted 180 degrees.

The deaths are the first serious casualties suffered by any of the more than 300 expatriate workers who are fighting more than 500 fires here.

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