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Mozambique armoury death toll rises to 72

Written by: Staff
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Maputo, Mar 23: A series of explosions at a military armoury in Mozambique's capital Maputo has killed at least 72 people and injured hundreds more, Mozambique's health minister said today.

The government said the blasts were triggered by high temperatures yesterday. The explosions sent mortars and rockets flying into the Malhazine residential area near the city's airport, which authorities closed.

About 20 tonnes of military equipment, some of it dating back to the country's civil war in the 1970s and 1980s, was being stored at the military site.

Flames engulfed the suburb and dark smoke drifted over the city as ambulances ferried the wounded, many missing limbs, to hospital.

''At the moment we have 65 bodies in the mortuary at Maputo Central Hospital and seven others in Jose Macamo Hospital,'' Health Minister Ivo Paulo Garrido told the southern African nation's state television.

''We also have 330 seriously injured people, most of them in intensive care units in three major hospitals. These numbers could increase as others are still streaming in,'' Garrido said.

President Armando Guebuza called off a visit to South Africa today because of the disaster. He was expected to hold a news conference later after visiting some of the injured in hospital.

Authorities said they did not know when the airport, the busiest in the country, would reopen.

The incident is the second this year in which explosions rocked the Maputo armoury. No one died in blasts in January, which the government also blamed on soaring temperatures.

Temperatures yesterday hit a high of 36 degrees centigrade, according to Mozambique Radio.

Reuters

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