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Paul Jackson

international news _ JONTY SKRUFFF _ 19th December, 2005

Paul Jackson's Oil Explosion Escape

Electronic house DJ/ Hemel Hempstead resident Paul Jackson narrowly missed last weekend's oil depot blast, as he was DJing overseas, he told Skrufff this week.

The Underwater/ Audiotherapy producer had been spinning for Pacha in St Petersburg the night before and was woken in his hotel room at 9am when his wife called from their house just half a mile away from the fire.

"She wasn't panicking and was very matter of fact about it; she told me she thought it was a plane, she said it sounded very jet like," said Paul, "She said the explosion literally shook the whole house." The blast also destroyed the front door of Paul's Mother-in-law's house, which was closer to the fuel depot, terrifying her as she'd been already awake, he said.

Local police almost immediately labelled the explosion an industrial accident, which almost all British media immediately accepted, except for the Guardian who briefly hinted at other possible causes the day after the blast.

"There were no suggestions from any of the security services that investigators had evidence pointing to a terrorist attack," the paper pointed out, "but an information blackout might be a police tactic if detectives did not want to alarm the public."

Middle Eastern sources including al Jazeera and Israeli intelligence news site Debka were less circumspect pointing out that al Qaida's number two Ayman Zawahiri had released a video calling on "the holy warriors to concentrate their campaigns on the stolen oil of the Muslims".

The video was broadcast in full on al Jazeera on December 7 (4 days before the explosion) while Asian newspaper the Pakistan Dawn identified another terrorist group with motive for launching an attack.

"Nigeria's Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) had specifically warned of attacks on British oil interests following the arrest in London of oil-rich Bayelsa state governor, Diepreye Alamieyesiegha, on suspicion of money-laundering," they said.

Paul Jackson, however, adopted a typically British phlegmatic approach to the whole incident, including the giant column of smoke above his house ('it's like a black mushroom crowd, it's really quite impressive, it's one of those strange things you don't see every day', he mused) and accused the British media of exaggeration.

"The news programmes have really dramatized the whole incident, it really is tabloid TV, even on stations like the BBC," said Paul.

"They dress themselves up as being really legit and factual but seeing the incident firsthand then hearing their description is quite laughable." (Jonty Skrufff)

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