73 tragically killed in Mozambique oil truck blast

World Today

Mozambique Tanker ExplosionIn this Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, photo, burn victims rest outside in the town of Caphiridzange in Tete province, Mozambique. A fuel tanker exploded in northern Mozambique, killing 73 people and injuring 110 others as residents gathered around to buy fuel from the driver, Mozambican media reported. (AP Photo)

Mozambique’s president on Friday pledged support for the families of dozens of people, including children, who were killed when a fuel tanker exploded in northern Mozambique.

President Filipe Nyusi said “tragedy has knocked on our door once again” in Tete province, where the accident happened Thursday. Nyusi was recalling a 2015 incident in Tete in which about 70 people died after drinking contaminated beer.

Radio Mozambique initially said 73 people died in the tanker explosion on Thursday, though the Portuguese news agency Lusa, citing government data, said on Friday that 56 had been confirmed killed and that another 108 were injured.

There was no immediate explanation for the discrepancy.

The justice ministry will head a commission to investigate the accident, Lusa reported. It said a government task force planned to head on Friday to the scene.

Aid efforts must be “flexible” following the tanker fire in the town of Caphiridzange, Nyusi said at a meeting in Maputo, the Mozambican capital.

The explosion happened after residents gathered around the tanker to get fuel, according to media reports. There were conflicting reports about how the accident happened — Mozambican media initially said the tanker driver was selling the fuel to residents, but another report indicated that residents were trying to get fuel out of the truck by themselves.

Dozens of charred bodies were scattered around the blast site in the town of Caphiridzange in Tete province, and government officials believed more bodies might be in surrounding woods, Radio Mozambique reported. Some badly burned people had tried to run into a nearby river, the radio said.

Medical teams rushed to the scene of the accident, evacuating the injured in ambulances and other vehicles. Searchers looked for more victims, though their efforts were hampered as night fell.

Story by the Associated Press.