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Death toll in Peru gas tanker blast rises to eight: ministry

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Firefighters walk past destroyed houses after the explosion of a gas tanker in Lima left at least eight people dead and dozens injured

The death toll from a powerful gas tanker explosion that ripped through a district of Lima rose to eight on Friday, after four more victims succumbed to severe burn injuries overnight, Peru's health ministry said.

Dozens were wounded, some severely, when the truck tanker carrying Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) exploded and ignited a major fire on Thursday that destroyed several houses in the capital's Villa El Salvador district.

"According to the latest report we have eight people dead," a health ministry spokesman told AFP.

Among those who died of their injuries overnight were a 17-year-old youth and a 38-year-old man who had burns to 100 percent of his body, the ministry said.

"Andres Asto arrived yesterday badly burned. Unfortunately he died at 0340 local time," said Rosario Kiyohara, head of Lima's Dos de Mayo hospital.

Health Minister Maria Elizabeth Hinostrozo said several survivors are in a "very serious" condition. "They are being given full support, but the first week is critical," Hinostrozo told reporters.

Health authorities have appealed for blood donations.

The driver was killed in the blast, which happened as the tanker approached an intersection.

Shortly afterwards, a nine-year-old girl died of cardiac arrest in hospital after suffering severe burns, health officials said.

Investigators believe the explosion was caused when a fuel hose became detached as the truck tanker passed over a speed bump as it approached an intersection. The hose spewed LPG gas onto the street causing a powerful explosion and fire.

The resulting blaze engulfed 14 nearby homes in the densely populated district, which firefighters fought for three hours to bring under control, fire department chief Alfonso Panizo told state television.