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Mozambique oil tank truck blast toll soars to 73

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Maputo, Mozambique | AFP | 

At least 73 people were killed and 110 others injured Thursday when a truck carrying petrol blew up in western Mozambique near Malawi, the government said in a statement.

“The incident occurred when citizens tried to take petrol from a truck” in the village of Caphiridzange in Tete province, the statement said.

“The death toll of the incident is now 73,” state-run Radio Mocambique announced, citing authorities in Tete province near Malawi, where the explosion occurred.

“Because of the heat, the truck burst into flames, leading to the deaths  and causing burns in others, according to investigators’ initial findings,” it added.

“Ambulances and medical personnel were deployed to the scene in order to assist the victims. The injured were evacuated to Tete hospital” around 90 kilometres (55 miles) away, it said.

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

A local journalist told AFP the truck had crashed on Wednesday and exploded on Thursday afternoon, as scores of people tried to siphon off fuel.

The government aims to send three ministers to the scene on Friday 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.

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