A fire has ripped through Honiara’s Central Market this afternoon, causing significant damage and triggering a stampede of people exiting the market area.
Eyewitnesses told SIBC they heard a loud explosion near one of the fish and chip stalls towards the back of the market building at about 4.15pm.
One of the stalls then ignited, witnesses say, triggering a mass stampede of people exiting the market area.
Witnesses say the fire spread across the permanent fish and chip stalls at the back of the market.
The stalls are understood to be totally destroyed.
However the concrete wall separating the food stalls and the market area protected the main market area from significant damage.
An eyewitness described the stampede as “very scary”.
Produce in the area was burnt and eyewitnesses say they saw people stealing items from market stalls which had been abandoned to escape the flames.
The gas blast which is suspected to have started the blaze could be heard kilometres away.
It is not yet known if anyone has been injured in the fire or the stampede. Firefighters were still putting out the fire at 5pm this afternoon.