March 23 2007
Explosions damage SOS Children's Village houses in Mozambique
23/03/2007 - Explosions from a military ammunition storage dump killed more than 70 and injured more than 200 yesterday near the SOS Children's Village Maputo, Mozambique. Fallout from the explosions completely destroyed one family house at the SOS Children's Village and caused damage to other houses and administration facilities. SOS Children's Villages Mozambique representatives confirmed there were no injuries to children or co-workers.
The explosions, which were reportedly caused by intense heat, occurred at a military ammunition storage facility in Malhazine, a suburb of Maputo, just before 5 p.m. local time on Thursday. The Mozambican Armed Forces (FADM) armoury stored more than 20 tonnes of old military equipment and weapons and is located approximately two kilometres from SOS Children's Village Maputo.
All children and co-workers from the children's village assembled and were evacuated to Maputo centre by local taxi mini-buses as the initial explosions intensified, causing further detonations. Children received assistance from the German embassy in trying to locate accommodations, but returned safely to the SOS Children's Village at approximately 2:30 a.m. on Friday morning. Upon his return to the children's village, national director Jaime Alves found a piece of metal about 60 centimetres long and weighing about 12 kilograms in the village, which had apparently damaged one of the houses as it landed.
SOS Children's Villages Mozambique deputy national director Tiago Nhangumele said, "Fortunately, I can confirm that there were no injuries or casualties at all amongst children or SOS co workers as a result of the explosions in Maputo. However, among the general population, there is still fear, shock and in some cases panic."
At least 72 people were confirmed dead and more than 200 were injured by the blasts, according to wire reports. The explosions sent mortar bombs and rockets into the nearby Laulane residential district, where many houses were destroyed. A similar explosion occurred at the same military facility on 28 January 2007.
The Mozambique Minister of Education, Mr Aires Aly, has visited the children's village composed of fifteen family houses, an administrative building and other facilities. The Office of the First Lady of Mozambique sent a delegation to view the damage, and has donated foodstuffs and has also offered the services of a psychologist to assist any children who have been traumatized.