Bombs explode in Dar

Yesterday around noon, tremors were felt across the city after a weapons and ammunition dump exploded killing at least three people and leaving hundreds injured. The explosions took place at an Army Barrack in the Mbagala suburb, 15km from the city centre. From The Citizen:

The Government yesterday appointed a team to investigate a series of explosions at a Dar es Salaam military depot, in which 10 people, including several army personnel, are feared to have died. 

Sources in the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces in Dar es Salaam told The Citizen last evening that the explosions occurred as Katyusha and anti-aircraft rockets were being moved.

Hundreds of Mbagala residents were injured in the blasts and taken to Temeke District Hospital, which was overwhelmed by a sudden influx of people seeking treatment. Scores of parents reported their children missing.
One of the doctors at Temeke District Hospital, a medical student from Britain, told the BBC of his experience:

When the first casualties arrived, we received a lot of people who were very shaken up. All the doctors dropped what they were doing to help. There were children coming in with school uniforms on. There were a few people with explosion injuries. Some had severe head injuries. I also know of at least one amputation carried out on a casualty. I’m told that a lot of people were injured evacuating the area. I heard one of those people died. And there were a lot of people admitted with things like asthma.

As harrowing eye-witness accounts continue to make their way onto news reports, the question that’s on everyones mind is: why did the army store such dangerous weapons near a residential neighborhood? 

UPDATE: These cats took ‘the don’t let a crisis go to waste’ mantra a little too far:

[T]hieves and pickpockets had a field day helping themselves to an assortment of booty — even as soldiers and their families ran for their lives from the base. At least two young men were arrested and were found to be in possession of ten explosive devices. “I saw them walk around the base … then I decided to follow them … they had various explosives when I arrested them … there were four of them … but another two managed to escape,” said Mr Abeid Mchopa, an auxiliary police, who was helping to guard the base during the blasts.

UPDATE II: The local press is reporting that the death toll has risen to 20 but unconfirmed, anecdotal reports say that the actual casualty number is higher than that being reported by the media. Then there is this troubling bit of news: 

The Dar es Salaam Red Cross announced that over 500 children had been missing since Wednesday. 

Initially, some 1,180 children had been reported missing, according to Red Cross chairperson Mayasa Mikidadi.

We pray that they will soon be re-united with their parents.

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