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23 killed, 135 hurt by explosion in Saudi Arabia's capital

At least 22 people were killed when a fuel truck crashed into an overpass in Saudi Arabia's capital, triggering an explosion that caused the collapse of an industrial building. NBCNews.com's Alex Witt reports.

Updated at 9:41 a.m. ET: RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - At least 23 people were killed when a fuel truck crashed into an overpass in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Thursday, triggering an explosion that brought down an industrial building and torched nearby vehicles, officials and state media said.

Health ministry spokesman Saad al-Qahtani said 135 people were injured in the disaster. He told state television they were mostly men and included some foreigners. 

Only one corner of the building, which was several stories high, was left standing, Reuters reported. 

More photos from the scene of the explosion in Riyadh

"The truck driver was surprised by a road accident on its route, causing it to crash into one of the pillars of the bridge," civil defense department spokesman Captain Mohamed Hubail Hammadi said. 

Twisted metal
Although the incident took place near the headquarters of the Saudi Arabian National Guard and the Prince Nayef Arab College for Security Sciences, officials speaking on state television said it was an accident. Saudi Arabia has been a target for al-Qaida attacks in the past.

Reuters

Smoke rises after an explosion in eastern Riyadh on Thursday.

Rubble, twisted metal and shattered glass littered a wide stretch of the surrounding area.

"I was inside the building when the blast came. Then boom, the building collapsed. Furniture, chairs and cabinets blasted into the room I was in," said survivor Kushnoo Akhtar, a 55-year-old Pakistani worker, who was covered in dirt and bleeding from multiple cuts over his body.  "My brother is still inside under the rubble. There are lots of people in there." 

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Several adjacent buildings were damaged and nearby vehicles, including a minibus on the overpass, were set on fire, witnesses said. 

Al Jazeera reported:

Abdullah al-Saery, a witness who arrived on the scene soon after the explosion, said the destruction was "everywhere", buildings, cars and a bridge were all destroyed.

"The number of those who lost their lives is definitely going to increase due to the huge explosion and the damage caused to buildings in the area," al-Saery told Al Jazeera.

The blast, which struck at around 7.20 a.m. local time, was on one of the capital's busiest roads but because Saudi Arabia is still observing the Eid al-Adha holiday, traffic was lighter than normal. 

The wrecked industrial building housed operations of Zahid Tractor, a distributor of heavy machinery.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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