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Mum badly burnt in petrol panic

A SENIOR British cabinet minister who urged drivers to stock fuel in jerry cans faced calls to resign last night after a mother -of-two set herself alight as she decanted petrol in her kitchen.

Diane Hill (46) of York, England, suffered 40pc burns when she apparently tried to pour petrol from a can into a jug to refuel her daughter's car.

Ms Hill's gas cooker was on and the petrol caught fire.

Prime Minister David Cameron described the incident as desperately sad but Labour rounded on Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, and suggested that his advice for motorists to keep fuel in a jerry can -- in breach of fire guidelines -- may have inadvertently led to the accident.

The mass panic-buying of petrol instigated by the government was continuing today -- despite no strike having been called by tanker drivers.


People were paying a "very, very heavy price for ministers' political intervention", shadow Chancellor Ed Balls claimed.

"I do think that political games were played. I think the prime minister woke up on Monday morning and thought, 'I've got the worst weekend I've had in government, [so] why don't I try to divert attention?'

"So suddenly we had government ministers talking up a strike which wasn't even called.

"When he should have been responsible, he decided to wind this up. He sent out his cabinet minister to say, 'Fill up your jerry cans'.

"It was a political invention, the panic of the last couple of days, and the nation and some people are paying a very, very heavy price for that."

Last night the UK's Department of Health had to address fears that ambulances were running short of fuel. It said that ambulances had "well-stocked alternative fuel supplies and there is no problem with ambulances getting fuel".

The Fire Brigades Union urged ministers to make a public safety announcement on the dangers of petrol in the home.

The Cabinet Office and No 10 ruled out Mr Maude's resignation but a Downing Street official privately admitted its message on the shortage threat had got "out of control".