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Learning English - Words in the News
11 June, 2007 - Published 13:36 GMT
More severe petrol shortages in Iraq
Thousands of people now queue for an entire day to get petrol
The Iraqi government blames shortage on bridge attacks

Iraq is again suffering from severe petrol shortages with many people saying the situation is worse since the US and British invasion. Iraq has the world's third largest reserves of oil, but thousands of people now queue for as long as a day at petrol stations. Andrew North reports from Baghdad:

Listen to the story

This is a petrol station in central Baghdad and as far as I can see along the street outside, there are cars lined up waiting for fuel. There are literally hundreds, their owners hoping the petrol won't run out before it's their turn. Fuel shortages have become a fact of life for Iraqis since the US and British invasion despite their country's vast oil reserves.

But the situation has got a lot worse in the past month or so. Many people now start queuing the night before. It's also dangerous. As the queues have grown they've become a magnet for insurgent attacks. There were two bombings aimed at petrol queues on Sunday with at least ten people killed and injured. With electricity as unreliable as ever, people need fuel not just for cars but generators at home, essential to power air conditioners to cope with the rising summer heat.

But petrol supplies into the capital have been badly disrupted, the government says, by recent attacks on several key bridges. Extra army checkpoints set up to prevent more such bombings have made things worse with many fuel trucks not being allowed through. Supplies are still getting through to the black market though, where petrol is more than double the price.

Andrew North, BBC News

Listen to the words

run out
finish, here, be sold out

a fact of life
a normal thing, the way things usually are

vast oil reserves
huge amounts of oil which are kept for a particular reason or for use by a particular person or group, usually at a later date

a magnet
a strong attraction

machines which use petrol or diesel to provide electricity, usually when the usual supply of electricity is not available

air conditioners
machines which keep the air in a building or house cool and dry

disturbed, stopped from happening in the usual way

extremely important, essential, necessary

official places where vehicles and people are stopped and examined by the police or military, here, to make sure that they aren't carrying bombs or other explosives

the black market
an unofficial, illegal and secret way of buying and selling things

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