Mozambique blast: Many victims 'suffered more than 50% burns'

2016-11-21 07:54
A badly burned child arrives at the Provincial Hospital in Tete after a truck carrying petrol burst into flames. (AFP)

A badly burned child arrives at the Provincial Hospital in Tete after a truck carrying petrol burst into flames. (AFP)

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Maputo - The death toll from a petrol tanker blast in Mozambique has risen to 73, with dozens of people still being treated in hospital for severe burns, an official said on Sunday.

The explosion occurred last Thursday when hundreds of people jostled to collect petrol from the tanker, which was loaded with 30 000 litres.

The oil had spilled around the truck when the blaze erupted.

"We can inform to you that 73 of our citizens have so far lost their lives as a result of the accident," Minister of State Administration Carmelita Namashulua told a press conference.

She said people used hose pipes and jerry cans to collect the petrol. A commission of inquiry has been launched into the cause of the blast.

Namashulua said many victims had suffered more than 50% burns, which was a "new experience" for the poor southern African country with only basic healthcare facilities, especially in rural areas.

The tanker exploded in Tete province, a remote western region near the border with Malawi, killing 43 people on the spot, with over 100 badly burnt including children.

The truck was said to be carrying fuel from Mozambique's port city of Beira to landlocked Malawi.

Some of the victims being treated at Tete Provincial Hospital were children, in a disaster that President Filipe Nyusi called a "tragedy".

The government on Saturday declared three days of national mourning and has set up a commission to investigate the cause of the blast.

The driver is said to have disappeared.

The government in Mozambique, one of the world's poorest countries, recently increased the price of fuel after the value of the local currency -- the metical -- fell sharply.

Read more on:    mozambique  |  southern africa

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