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Mozambique in Mourning After Deadly Tanker Explosion

  • VOA News

A badly burned child arrives at the Provincial Hospital in Tete, Mozambique, Nov. 17, 2016, after a truck carrying petrol burst into flames.

A badly burned child arrives at the Provincial Hospital in Tete, Mozambique, Nov. 17, 2016, after a truck carrying petrol burst into flames.

The Mozambican government has declared a three-day national mourning period following a tragic explosion that killed at least 60 people.

A fuel tanker exploded in the Moatize district of central Mozambique after the driver left it on the side of the road. Dozens of people were attempting to remove the fuel from the tanker when the explosion occurred, according to the government.

Radio Mozambique reported that at least 60 people had been killed and 108 were injured.

The period runs from Saturday through November 21, said the spokesman for the Mozambican cabinet, Mouzinho Saíde, after the cabinet met Friday in Maputo.

"During the period of national mourning, the national flag will fly at half-staff across the whole country and at the diplomatic and consular mission of Mozambique,” Saíde told journalists.

The cause of the explosion is under investigation, but local witnesses told a reporter for VOA's Portuguese to Africa service that a police officer fired a gun while people were surrounding the truck to disperse them. Others say a short circuit in the truck electric system may have caused the explosion.

This is the second time in two years the government has declared a period of official mourning after tragedies. In January, 2015 75 people died in the Chitima region from poisoning after drinking a traditional drink after a funeral.

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