Tanzania mourns blast victims

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (PANA) - Julius Nyerere International Airport here re-opened to traffic Thursday as the Tanzanian nation started mourning over 20 persons so far confirmed killed following accidental explosions at a military arms depot in the vicinity of the airport.

All victims were civilians caught in the way of ignited projectiles, government officials said.

No fewer than 150 others were injured and taken to various hospitals in the city for treatment.

Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda told Parliament, meeting in the central Tanzania capital, Dodoma, that the disaster was unprecedented, given that as many as 24 warehouses of ammunitions at the Gongo la Mboto barracks caught fire, triggering a barrage of explosions.

As lethal military devices detonated, dozens of short-range missiles flew up to 10 kms putting many lives and properties at risk.

Thousands of people in the surroundings of the barracks fled their homes in the middle of darkness as electric lines went dead in most areas of the city.

By Thursday morning, about 4,000 people were packed at Uhuru Stadium, where they sought temporary refuge.

About 150 children, who lost contact with their families during the rush, were being taken care of by authorities at the stadium.

Meanwhile, President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete has summoned a meeting of the national security committee in connection with the incident while the outraged public bayed for the dismissal of Defence and National Service minister, Dr. Hussein Mwinyi, recalling similar fatal explosions that occurred on 29 April, 2009, at another arms depot of the Tanzania People's Defence Forces (TPDF) at Mbagala in the same city.
-0- PANA AR/BOS 17Feb2011

17 february 2011 15:36:40

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