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Page last updated at 09:27 GMT, Monday, 4 May 2009 10:27 UK

Tanzania blast victims demand aid

Man standing in ruins of his house
This man's house was destroyed in the blast

Victims of a massive armoury explosion near Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's biggest city, are still waiting for essential aid to reach them, the BBC has found.

Tanzania's government has pledged compensation to all those affected by the blast, which injured hundreds and killed 20 people last week.

But some local residents are yet to be provided with adequate shelter and food, the BBC's Vicky Ntetema says.

The government has set up an inquiry into the damage caused by the blast.

While some families have received emergency aid including tents, mattresses and food, people in an area 1km from the centre of the blast have been forced to shelter within the precarious ruins of their homes, our correspondent says.

Children missing

"I went to register [for aid] so officers could come here to assess the damage, but to date I have neither seen the camp leader nor the area governmental person. I spent the whole day yesterday at home. I have not seen anyone," said Mr Chiwale, whose home was largely destroyed by the force of the explosion.

A man injured in the blast is taken to a hospital emergency room in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on 29 April 2009
Most of the children were running without knowing where they were going
Suleiman Kova
Police commander

"I hear residents have received some form of aid. We don't know what form of assistance - food or blankets - there is. We don't know what is going on," he told the BBC.

The disaster could not have come at a worse time for Tanzania, which is in the midst of its rainy season, our reporter says.

Mr Chiwale is among the many parents still desperately looking for their children, she says.

More than half of the dead were children, many of whom drowned in a river in the panic following the blast. It is estimated that hundreds of people, mainly children, are yet to be reunited with their families.

Some children fled for more than 15km (nine miles) after they were advised by the police and army to leave Mbagala township for their own safety.

Temporary camps have been set up by the Red Cross on the outskirts of the city to reunite missing children with their parents.

President Jakaya Kikwete visited the Mbagala ordnance depot on Thursday, a day after the blast which caused mass panic and flashbacks of the deadly 1998 US Embassy bombing in the country's main commercial centre.

In the immediate aftermath of the explosions, the Tanzanian government ordered the evacuation of high-rise buildings and offices as a precaution.

The armoury next to the army camp, which lies 14km (nine miles) outside the city centre, is thought to have contained large amounts of mines and artillery shells.

Other army depots have blown up in Africa in recent years.

In March 2007, an explosion on the outskirts of the Mozambican capital, Maputo, killed more than 90 people and more than 400 were injured.

And in January 2002 an ammunition dump in Lagos blew up, sending mortars crashing down on Nigeria's economic capital, and leaving more than 1,000 dead.



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