At least 73 killed in fuel truck explosion in Mozambique

Authorities probing whether truck was selling petrol when it exploded or whether it had been ambushed by residents

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The Independent Online

At least 73 were killed and another 110 suffered severe burns when a truck carrying petrol blew up in Mozambique, the country's government has said.

"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.

The government added that 110 people were injured, some of them critically.

Children were among the wounded, it said.

"Ambulances and medical personnel were deployed to the scene in order to assist the victims. The injured were evacuated to Tete hospital," the government statement said.

Authorities are probing whether the truck was selling petrol when it exploded, or whether it had been ambushed by residents, information ministry director Joao Manasses told the AFP news agency.

A local journalist told AFP the truck had crashed on Wednesday and exploded Thursday 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 are due to arrive at the scene on Friday 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 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.

Tete province was also hit by another tragedy in January 2015, when 75 people died from intoxication after drinking traditional beer.

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