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Tanzania: Dar es Salaam Armoury Explosion Death Toll Rises

The death toll from the military depot blast in Dar es Salaam has gone up to 22. Six service personnel and 16 civilians have been confirmed as killed by the military depot blast on Wednesday April 29, 2009, at the Mbagala Armoury, 15 kilometres outside the city centre of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania's largest city with a population of about 3.5 million.

More than half of the dead were children, many of whom drowned in a river in the panic following the blast.

The powerful blasts caused the collapse of several nearby buildings and ignited rockets and other weapons that showered shrapnel on bewildered residents. A total of 755 houses have been destroyed and 4,000 people rendered homeless.

Immediately after the explosions, Red Cross officials set up two camps to support the victims, including more than 1,192 children who were admitted by Wednesday night after getting lost while running for safety.

While Investigations are under way into the cause of the blast, the government has set up an inquiry to asses the damage caused by the blast and has pledged compensation to all those affected.

On the day the explosions occured several Tanzanian bloggers posted updates immediately after the blasts. Basil Msongo described the situation [sw]:

HALI ya usalama Mbagala bado si shwari, watu wengi wameumia na wengine wamezimia kwa hofu.
Taarifa kutoka kwenye kambi yalipolipuka mabomu hayo zimedai kuwa huenda itatokea milipuko mikubwa kuliko iliyotokea hadi sasa kwa kuwa kuna mabomu makubwa hayajalipuka.
… Baadhi ya mabomu yamelipuka kwenye makazi ya watu, moshi umetanda Mbagala na kwa ujumla shughuli za kijamii zimeathirika sana.

the situation in Mbagala is not safe, many peoplehave been injured and other have fainted due to panic. Reports from the camps where the bombs exploded warn that more blasts may occur because there are bigger bombs that have not yet exploded.
… Some bombs have reached residential areas, mbagala is under a huge cloud of smoke and all social activities have bee affected.

And Charahani wrote:

Mamia ya wakazi wa jiji hilo hasa Mbagala na vitongoji vyake walionekana kuchanganyikiwa walikuwa wakihangaika kukimbia nyumba zao kwa lengo la kujiokoa. Katika harakati za kujiokoa baadhi ya wananchi ho walitumbukia mtoni huku baadhi yao wakiwasahau watoto wao na vikongwe nyumba bila msaada wowote

Hundreds of city residents especially those in Mbagala and its surrounding suburbs seem to be perplexed as they were running from their houses in an attempt to escape the blasts. Some of the people fell into the river while attempting to escape, some forgot their children and left the old people without any assistance.

The day after the blast the initial shock turned into sessions of anger and questions about those responsible for the ‘accident’. There were angry reactions in a post with photographs of Tanzania’s president Jakaya Kikwete, Vice President Dr. Shein and other leaders visiting the site of the blast and temporary camps in Michuzi's blog:

We need to see some one anakuwa fired kwa uzembe uliotokea roho ya mtu ina thamani kubwa sana sasa uzembe wenu mmesababisha watu kupoteza maisha wengine viungo alafu hao majeruhi mtawaangalia kwa miezi mitatu tu mtaendelea na shughuli zenu na hivi 2010 inakaribia dah…. Hapa tunataka kuona watu WANAKWISHNEY waziri wa wizara usika, Naibu wake, mkuu wa kikosi cha maafa yalipotokea Mwamunyange ooooops huyu jamaa smart kidogo aendelee kutumikia nchi yake lakini hao wengine niliowamention tunataka kuona uwajibikaji wenu sio pole sizizokuwa na manufaa kwa wahanga wa tukio husika.

We need to see someone fired due to negligence, a human soul is irreplaceable, now your negligence has caused people to lose their lives, and others their limbs and you are going look after the injured for three months and then you will continue with normal business now that 2010 is close… [general elections will be held in 2010]. We need to see people FIRED, the minister responsible, his deputy, the head of Disaster Management Department., (Chief of Defence Forces) Mwamunyange… oooops this guy is a little bit smart let him continue to serve his country but the rest of those I have just mentioned we need to see them take the responsibility and not a show of sympathy that does not benefit the victims.

In another post with an aerial photograph showing bewildered residents confused along a freeway and another with some residents inspecting missile remains in a residential area prompted readers to blame not only the army and the government but citizens as well:

Hii inaonesha hatari kubwa ya kuhifadhi makombora (missiles) karibu na makazi ya watu wengi.
Haya siyo mabomu, bali nia surface-to- air missiles za kutungulia ndege, pia sitashangaa kama kuan surface-to-surface missiles ambazo zaweza kufyatuliwa na mzinga wenye midomo 20, hiyo kuruka kwa mpigo ktk uwanja wa vita.

This shows the dangers of storing missiles near a heavily populated residential area. These are not bombs, but they are surface-to- air missiles, I won’t be surprised if there are even surface-to-surface missiles which can be fired simultaneously as if in a war zone…

Another reader said:

… muhimu ni kufuata sheria za usalama na utunzaji wa silaha mbalimbali,ila ajali huweza kutokea.
Mazingira ama makambi ya jeshi ni mazuri sana, salama, kuna utaratibu safi na utunzaji wa mazingira ni namba moja! ndiyo sababu popote kambi ilipo,raia watasogea na watajenga tuu, ukiangalia maeneo yote hayo yalikuwa misitu minene wakati jeshi lilipo establish makambi lakini with time wananchi wamesogea na wengine wamevamia kabisa! Wakiambiwa waondoke hawataki na wanaenda hadi mahakamani!
makambi kuwepo mjini siyo tatizo, maana hata nchi za wenzetu hilo hilo lipo tena wana mambo ya hatari zaidi ya maghala ya silaha!,
Ila nadhani kuna umuhimu wa kuwafundisha watanzania “raia” mbinu za awali za medani na jinsi ya kusaidia na kujisaidia panapotokea balaa lolote.kwa sasa watz wengi bado “bongo lala” -penye hatari sisi tunakimbilia,utayari na kutambua hatari ni karibu na sifuri -JKT irudishwe upya kuondoa uzembe unaojionyesha na kuweka watu fiti kwa mujibu(kupiga msasa).
Tusipojali haya,it will cost us more than we can imagine!

… It is important to abide by safety rules and procedure when storing weapons. Accidents happen. Army camps are okay if there are regulations governing the storage of weapons. Wherever there are military camps people will build their homes nearby, if you look at it, the area was a thick forest when the army established the camp but with time people have invaded the area! When they are asked to leave they refuse, they even go to court!
I think there is a need to teach Tanzanians ‘citizens’ battle field tactics and what to do in case of an emergency. At the moment most of Tanzanians are ignorant – we always run towards danger zones, how we assess situations and readiness to cope are near zero – national service should be reintroduced to get rid of this apparent incompetence and to keep people fit – compulsorily.
If we do not take heed, it will cost us more than we can imagine!

The government, the military and the police are responding to the situation. Lukwangule has posted a press release from the Prime Minister’s Office promising compensation to all those affected by the blast:

Serikali imeshaanza kugharimia gharama za mazishi kwa watu waliokufa katika ajali hii, na itaangalia jinsi ya kuwapa pole wale waliofiwa ili kupunguza makali ya maisha na kuwasaidia waliopata ulemavu kwa matibabu na vifaa…

The government has started to pay for the funeral expenses for those whio paased away due to the accident, and it will look at how it will support relatives of the deceased so as to alleviate their suffering and will assist those maimed with mediacal care and other equipment….

And regarding the issue of having military arms depots close to residential areas, Basil Msongo has short post where the Tanzania’s president explains why ammunitions depot is located near residential areas:

Rais Jakaya Kikwete amesema, ghala hilo halikujengwa katika makazi ya watu, kwa kuwa lilijengwa mwaka 1976 nje ya makazi hayo.

The depot was not built in a residential area, because it was built in in 1976 outside the city.

4 comments

  • Habari kaka
    Samahani lakini naomba kama tunaweza kupata nafasi ya kuzungumzia jumuiya ya wanablogu Tanzania.Kwa kweli tunajitahidi kila kukicha kujua hatma ya jumuwata.Bwaya amekuwa mstari wa mbele kufufua jumuwata lakini bado tunahitaji nguvu zenu.

    Mada kuu yaweza kuwa tulipotoka,tulipo na tunakoelekea.

    asante mkuu.

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