( dpa ) - Sparks from a coalition helicopter hovering over the west of the southern Iraqi city of Basra on Tuesday caused a major fire at a large oil refinery, the Iraqi Ministry of Petroleum said.
Sources told the Iraqi news agency Voice of Iraq (VOI) that sparks from the flying helicopter interacted with gases of the petrol purifications taking place around the refinery, sparking many blazes in the area.
Earlier in the day, a local official had said an act of sabotage was the likely cause of the fire at the Shuaiba refinery west of Basra.
The fire started at two units producing gasoline and spread to other parts of the refinery. Firefighting vehicles and civil defence units converged on the scene from all over Basra province.
Shuaiba refinery - the largest in southern Iraq - has frequently been targeted by insurgents who are seeking to disrupt Iraq's efforts to restore oil production to full capacity.
Frequent attacks on oil installations in the north and south, causing power cuts and chronic fuel shortages, have prompted the Iraqi government to purchase fuel products from its neighbours in Kuwait and Iran.