Death toll rises to 15 after gas cylinder explosion in Iraq's north

SULAIMANIYA, Iraq (Reuters) -Fifteen people were killed in a gas cylinder explosion in a residential area in the northern Iraqi city of Sulaimaniya, the civil defence said on Friday.

A rescue operation lasting 17 hours had now ended, the civil defence added.

Earlier on Friday, Haval Abubaker, the governor of Sulaimaniya province, announced three days of mourning.

Civil defence firefighters managed to contain the fire that broke out in a residential area after the gas cylinder exploded on Thursday. The fire damaged several houses and destroyed at least five vehicles, police said.

Police officers said at least three houses were completely destroyed by the explosion of a cooking gas cylinder that was installed on the rooftop of one of the homes.

(Reporting by Baghdad Newsroom; Writing by Lena Masri; Editing by Mark Porter and Raissa Kasolowsky)