Mozambique blasts death toll rises

At least 96 confirmed dead in arms depot explosion as clear-up begins.

    Unexploded munitions are being cleared from residential areas [AFP]
    Munitions at the country's largest arms depot exploded on late on Thursday, landing on nearby poor neighborhoods, starting fires and causing residents to flee in panic.
     
    "The defence ministry along with the city of Maputo is distributing leaflets to the families of the victims in order to organise the funerals," said a spokesman for the presidency, Estefanio Muholove.
     
    He added that soldiers were going through the areas near the depot to collect the munitions that had not exploded.
     
    Horrific injuries
     
    Leila Pakkala, the UN children's fund representative in Mozambique, warned of the danger to children from the undetonated munitions.
     
    "Experience in similar situations has shown that children in particular are in danger of being injured by playing with arms and mortars that have exploded," she said in a statement.
     
    About 20 tonnes of obsolete arms and munitions dating from the country's 1976-1992 civil war had been stockpiled in the depot, set to be destroyed.
     
    Luisa Diogo, Mozambique's prime minister, visited the injured in hospital on Saturday morning, local radio reported.
     
    Most of the injured - many of them children - had limbs amputated, while others suffered head injuries and severe burns, according to doctors at Maputo hospitals.
     
    The government says the blasts were triggered by high temperatures of up to 38c.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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