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Last Updated: Monday, 30 June, 2003, 22:05 GMT 23:05 UK
'Looters' killed in Iraq blast
Injured at hospital in Haditha
The injured had been searching for metal
An ammunition dump has exploded in Iraq, killing about 30 people, according to reports.

Many of the dead were said to have been looting the site at the time, looking for artillery casings to sell.

Local residents said scores of people were also injured in the blast, which happened in a desert area near the town of Haditha, about 260 kilometres (160 miles) north-west of the capital, Baghdad on Saturday.

A spokesman for US Central Command in Baghdad said that the dump was Iraqi, not American.

Because of that, he said, US forces in the area were not taking responsibility for caring for the wounded.

"There are quantities of dead and wounded, but we don't know exactly how many," he told BBC News Online.

Copper scrap

There has been no explanation as to what caused the blast.

A local doctor, Najnediman al-Ami, told the French news agency AFP said it was impossible to give an exact number of deaths.

"The bodies were carbonized and the roof of the depot fell in on them, but it is in the dozens," he said.

One of the injured was Akid Mohsen Halas, 27, who suffered burns to most of his body.

He told AFP: "When the explosion happened, there were about 100 of us, inside and outside the warehouse."

He said the people had been coming from across the region every morning to disassemble the shells - carefully removing the explosives - to sell the metal for scrap.

"We are all poor, we don't have anything to eat and we could sell a tonne of copper for 500,000 dinars ($420)," he added.


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