Road Tanker Explosion Fatalities rise to 80 – 160 Injured
Some 80 people died and a further 160 were injured in an explosion and fire next to a road tanker in Tete province, in the country’s remote western region near Malawi. One local journalist told AFP the truck had crashed on November 16 and exploded the following day as scores of people tried to syphon off fuel.
“In the accident, 160 people were injured, 96 of whom are still being kept in for treatment at Tete Provincial Hospital,” government spokesman Mouzinho Saide said at a press conference in Maputo.
“The cabinet has created a commission of inquiry to investigate the circumstances, causes and responsibilities for this accident.”
Authorities suggested that residents may have been taking petrol after the vehicle had crashed or been abandoned by drivers who fled when they feared it could explode.
Photographs from the hospital in Tete showed badly burned children arriving for emergency care.
“Of the people brought in, we have two pregnant women, 17 children, and a total of 45 severe injuries, with cases of third-degree burns,” Jose Mendonca, Tete provincial government spokesman, told reporters.
The Tete provincial government has appealed for emergency food aid and transport assistance for affected families.
Three days of national mourning have been decreed by the government.
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 by 70% against the US dollar this year, after falling 36% in 2015.