Town of Yafia Mourns Three

Yesterday morning, the town of Yafia was in mourning for three of its young men following their deaths from a toxic leak at a Haifa refinery on Tuesday. Most of the residents did not go to work and gathered at the homes of the three men. The burials of two of the men, Tammer Marjiyeh, 33, a father of six (the youngest of which was born only last week ), and George Zaatara, 31, a father of three, are scheduled for this afternoon following funeral services at the Roman Catholic church in own.

The two families were waiting for relatives from abroad to arrive to take part in the funeral.

Marjiyeh and Zaatara were close friends who became brothers-in-law when Marjiyeh married Zaatara's sister.

A relative, Michel Zaatara, said the pair were considered expert welders. Marjiyeh, who was a contractor and headed a group of workers, had begun working with his father, Edmond, 12 years ago at the Dead Sea Works.

"They supported their families honestly by hard work and long hours. We can't get over that, in a second, seven children have become orphans," Zaatara said. Relatives said Oil Refineries, the owner of the site, had promised they would get answers to all their questions.

Not far from the mourning tent of the Zaatara and Marjiyeh families, the Haj family, who lost their son Samakh, 18, in the accident, were sitting in their own mourning tent.

Haj had starting working in Marjiyeh's group about a month ago. His uncle, Faraj, told Haaretz that Samakh had been planning on completing his studies. "He was at the beginning of his career and had aspirations in life," Faraj said.

Haj was laid to rest yesterday in the Muslim cemetery in Yafia. He is survived by his parents, two brothers and two sisters.

People in the village are praying for the health of Aouni Meslem, who was also hurt in the accident and who is still in serious condition at Rambam Medical Center.

People in Yafia said Tuesday's incident reminded them that some 20 years ago, three young men from Shfaram in their 20s were killed in a work accident at Oil Refineries. They were trying to dismantle a pipe that apparently was full of gas and a spark started a fire in which the three burned to death.