At least 73 people were killed and scores more injured when an oil tank truck burst into flames in a village in western Mozambique on Thursday, the nation’s public radio announced.
“The death toll of the incident is now 73,” state-run Radio Mocambique announced, citing authorities in Tete.
“The incident occurred when citizens tried to take petrol from a truck” in the village of Caphiridzange in Tete province, near Malawi, the government said in a statement yesterday.
The government added that 110 people were injured, some of them critically. Children were among the wounded, it said.
The precise circumstances of the explosion remained unclear.
Authorities were trying to determine whether the oil tank truck was selling petrol when it exploded, or whether it had been ambushed by residents, information ministry director Joao Manasses told AFP.
A local journalist told AFP the truck had crashed on Wednesday and exploded on yesterday afternoon, as scores of people tried to siphon off fuel.
The government “deplores the loss of life… And is currently providing the necessary assistance in order to save lives and to comfort the victims’ families,” it said.
Three ministers were due to arrive at the scene today in order to monitor the rescuers’ work.
Mozambique is one of the world’s poorest nations, according to the International Monetary Fund, and since its 16-year civil war ended in 1992 its population has suffered the consequences of a terrible economic crisis.
The government recently increased the price of fuel, after the value of the local currency — named metical — sunk against the dollar.