An explosion along an oil pipeline extending from the northern Kirkuk oilfields to Bayji refineries caused damage to both the line and another parallel pipeline between Iraq and Turkey, on Tuesday.
Twenty-six people were killed and 59 wounded in separate attacks and military operations across Iraq, according to local authorities.
The ensuing fire hit only a section of the Kirkuk-Bayji pipeline which runs over the River Tigris, but caused a huge oil leak and dense black smoke in the area.
Firefighters were struggling to contain the damage, a source in the local oil industry said. The explosion is expected to halt production at Bayji refineries, which supply more than half of Iraq's oil products.
According to a source in the water department in Salahaddin, the explosion caused oil to seep into the Tigris river damaging water stations and triggering their temporary closure.
The water supply up to 100 kilometres south of the explosion site was affected due to the unimpeded oil flow, the source added. Water used for irrigation purposes was similarly contaminated.
In the aftermath of the attack, a series of fires were reported along the banks of the Tigris as a result of the leak, said a member of Salahaddin province's civil defence department.
Health officials in Tikrit and Bayji have reported several cases of suffocation as a result of smoke inhalation. The dark clouds of smoke mixed with gas are said to have gathered in the skies from Bayji to Tikrit, 40 kilometres south of the explosion site.
Last Mod: 19 Eylül 2007, 12:11