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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 October, 2003, 17:02 GMT 18:02 UK
Zimbabwe fuel company 'runs dry'
Fuel queue in Zimbabwe
Fuel shortages worsened after a deal with Libya collapsed
Zimbabwe's state-controlled oil company has run out of fuel, plunging national infrastructure and emergency services into crisis, fuel officials have reportedly said.

The country's state-controlled newspaper, The Herald, quotes a source at the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) as saying: "There is not a drop of fuel here, though some is expected next week."

However, the country's Minister of Energy and Power Development Ambassador, Amos Midzi, told the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation there was adequate fuel in the country.

In August, fuel prices in Zimbabwe rose by up to 500% after the government announced it had ended price controls.

The Herald reported the lack of fuel at NOCZIM had led to ambulance fleets, army vehicles and the public transport sector becoming "paralysed".

Health fears

Relatives of some sick Zimbabweans had been asked to provide their own fuel for the journey to hospital, according to The Herald.

"A medical officer at the Beitbridge Rural District Hospital confirmed having asked some relatives of sick people to refuel ambulances for their sick to be ferried to referral centres in Gwanda or Bulawayo," the paper said.

The country's fuel shortage has worsened since a trade deal with its main supplier, Libya, collapsed in November 2002.

The country is also struggling with a widespread cash shortage, inflation of almost 400% and unemployment of about 70%.

Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, blames President Robert Mugabe for the mismanagement of the economy during his 23-year rule.

Mr Mugabe blames international opponents for sabotaging the economy because of his controversial policy of seizing white-owned farms.

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