A migrant in the Borgo Mezzanone slum, Foggia, where a woman of African origins was burned after a gas canister exploded in the early morning hours of Tuesday |ANSA/Franco Cautillo
A migrant in the Borgo Mezzanone slum, Foggia, where a woman of African origins was burned after a gas canister exploded in the early morning hours of Tuesday |ANSA/Franco Cautillo

One woman has suffered severe burns after a gas canister exploded in a shack situated in the Borgo Mezzanone shantytown, in which many migrants live, not far from the southern city of Foggia.

A woman of African origins is in a critical condition after suffering severe burns when a gas canister exploded accidentally on Monday night in the Borgo Mezzanone shantytown near the city of Foggia in southern Italy. 

The woman suffered deep burns over 90% of her body and is in the intensive care unit of the Policlinico di Bari hospital on a respirator. The woman suffered several heart attacks on Tuesday morning. 

An investigation is underway to find out who she is, as no ID documents have yet been found. Some of the migrants living in the area which has been called a 'ghetto' say that she is of Nigerian origins and around 30 years old. 

Night blast caused fire 

The explosion occurred around 2:30 AM. Firefighters who arrived at the scene managed to pull the woman out of the resulting rubble. A fire broke out due to the explosion that destroyed four shacks. A similar incident in April 2019 occurred when a fire broke out from an illegal power hookup, killing a 26-year-old Gambian man. 

On November 1, 2018, another young African man lost his life in a similar incident in the same shantytown. An initiative coordinated by the prefect's office is underway to dismantle the illegal settlement. 

Foggia prefect says 'ghettoes being emptied' 

Commenting on the incident, Foggia prefect Raffaele Grassi said that "in Foggia we are conducting a gradual emptying of all illegal settlements. Since last year, we have cleared an area of the Borgo Mezzanone ghetto measuring seven hectares. Some 13 remain [to be cleared]."

He added: "we have started, in collaboration with the Puglia regional government, a series of initiatives to ensure better living conditions for migrants. Temporary accommodation will soon be up and running in San Severo at the Fortore farm with 400 beds to host the foreigners in that area. We are involving the mayors of Capitanata as well developing wide-reaching reception projects, especially in small villages that are currently suffering depopulation."

Prefect Grassi said that, moreover, "these operations to empty the ghettoes will also lead to actions against illegal labor practices."
 

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