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Africa
Mozambique arms blast: 80 dead
Hundreds of residents wounded after explosion at a weapons depot in the capital.
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2007 11:32 GMT
Large numbers of children were injured in the blasts [EPA]
Up to 80 people have been killed and over 360 injured after a series of explosions at an arms depot in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique.
 
The blasts took place on Thursday evening, causing widespread panic in the city.
 
Radio Mozambique said the explosions sent mortars and rockets crashing into the residential district of Malhazine.
Ambulances and private cars carried the injured to hospital, many with missing or damaged limbs.
 
Homes were destroyed and roofs blown off when explosives fired from the armoury landed on nearby houses which went up in flames, causing people to flee in panic.
Miguel Barreiro, a UN official in charge of the country's disarmament programme, said: "It's the biggest armoury in the country. It contains thousands of tonnes of weapons and ammunition."
 
The government said the blasts could have been triggered by high temperatures of up to 38C on Thursday.
 
Unice Mucaphe, the Red Cross programme director for Mozambique, said people were still being evacuated from the affected areas.
"There are eight neighbourhoods where people live which are affected," she said.
 
"People are still being evacuated, there are houses destroyed.  The difficulty is now to locate people because there are lots of  children who are lost."
 
Child victims
 
A doctor at the capital's central hospital said a large number of children were among the victims.
 
"We have had to do many amputations for the children," he said.
 
Armando Guebuza, the president, called off a visit to South Africa following the disaster.
 
In a radio address on Thursday, Guebuza appealed for calm.
 
"Our defence forces are working to assess the situation. We call upon all our citizens to be calm until the situation is rectified," he said.
 
Maputo's airport, situated near the armoury, remained closed on Friday following the blasts.
Source:
Agencies
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