Death toll from armoury explosions rises.
The death toll from the explosions at an armoury in Maputo on 22 March has risen to at least 102 as accusations mount that government negligence was to blame. The series of blasts at the weapons depot in the Malhazine neighbourhood sent rockets, mortar and canon shells and other weapons flying in a radius of ten kilometres, damaging homes and infrastructure and sending people fleeing in panic. Over 500 people were injured in the blast and hundreds of children were separated from their families, of whom about 100 were still reported missing on 26 March. At least 1,400 unexploded weapons have so far been recovered but more remain lodged in buildings or in the ground; they are to become the object of a controlled clean-up operation conducted by the army in conjunction with the UK-based non-governmental organisation HALO, which has already carried out extensive de-mining operations in Mozambique.
Government officials initially blamed a heat wave in Maputo for triggering the explosions but members of the opposition and humanitarian officials are now insisting the tragedy could have been avoided. President Armando Guebuza has ordered an official investigation into the incident the results of which should be made known in early April. He has also announced that the depot will be decommissioned and its remaining contents removed to a location away from built-up areas.