June 1, 2015 / 1:28 PM / in 2 years

At least four people killed in fire at Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon

BEIRUT (Reuters) - At least four people were killed when dozens of tents at a Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley caught fire on Monday, witnesses said.

A boy walks near the remains of tents that were burnt in a refugee camp for Syrian refugees in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley June 1, 2015. REUTERS/Hassan Abdallah

Security sources initially said six people were killed. The witnesses who were in the camp said that four people including three children were killed and two remained missing.

At least 160 of the roughly 300 tents, which housed around 600 people, were burned, humanitarian sources said, adding that the cause of the fire was not immediately known. Some said that the fire was caused by an electric fault, others said a tent caught fire when a woman was cooking and it spread quickly.

“The bodies were totally burned and cannot be recognized. Some are children,” a security source told Reuters.

Syrian civil war refugees in Lebanon live in dire conditions -- makeshift settlements, sheds, garages and unfinished buildings. Some of the tents are made of old billboard posters

The four-year conflict in Syria has displaced millions of Syrians. Around 1.7 million are refugees in neighboring countries like Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.

In Lebanon, where a quarter of the population are now refugees, the authorities have barred the United Nations from opening formal camps, which has meant that displaced people are scattered across some 1,700 communities.

Reporting by Mariam Karouny; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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