Tanzania arms depot blasts toll rises to five

April 30, 2009 12:00 am

, DAR ES SALAAM, April 30 – The death toll from a series of explosions at an ammunition depot in Dar es Salaam rose to five on Thursday as rescuers and investigators continued to search destroyed buildings.

"The death toll may be higher since we are still compiling reports and search is going on in collapsed and burnt down buildings," Dar es Salaam police commander Suleiman Kova told journalists.

The massive explosions showered the Tanzanian commercial capital with shrapnel and caused widespread panic, bringing back memories of the 1998 bombing of the US embassy here.

Kova declined to give the exact origin of the explosions at the dump but Deputy Defence Minister Emmanuel Nchimbi told reporters that it was accidental.

The blasts caused the collapse of several nearby buildings and ignited rockets and other weapons that came crashing down or showered shrapnel on bewildered residents, sometimes more than a kilometre away.

Red Cross officials set up two camps to support the victims, including 1,192 children who were admitted by Wednesday night after getting lost while running for safety.

"Most of them were running without knowing where they were going. They were assisted to the camp by some good people and parents are advised to report for missing children," Kova said.

As rescuers sifted through the rubble of some of the buildings that were blown to pieces, Tanzanian army chief of staff Abdallah Shimbo said five servicemen were still missing.


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