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Last Updated: Friday, 23 March 2007, 23:40 GMT
Dozens dead in Mozambique blasts
Police inspect artillery shells after the depot blasts in Maputo

More than 90 people have been killed after a series of explosions at a weapons depot in Mozambique, government officials say.

Thousands of people fled as the blasts near Maputo international airport threw shells and shrapnel into the air.

Several hundred people were injured in the blasts, as the initial blasts caused further detonations.

It was the second time in less than two months that aging explosives in the arsenal have detonated.

"In Maputo hospitals, we registered 96 people dead and more than 400 injured," Health Minister Ivo Garrido said at a news conference.

In a speech on national television, President Armano Guebuza appealed for calm and said the military was investigating the cause.

The government later declared three days of mourning and set up a commission of inquiry into the accident.

Huge cache

Officials blamed the high summer temperatures for the previous explosions.


Twenty tonnes of obsolete equipment have been awaiting destruction.

The weapons depot near the neighbourhood of Magoanine is the largest in Mozambique, reports said.

"It's the biggest armoury in the country. It contains thousands of tonnes of weapons and ammunition," Miguel Barreiro, a United Nations official in charge of the country's disarmament program, told the AFP news agency.

Country profile: Mozambique
07 Mar 07 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Mozambique
07 Mar 07 |  Country profiles

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