UPDATE ON ARMY BASE EXPLOSION NEAR DAR ES SALAAM’S JNIA
Information received from Dar at present pegs the death toll ‘near 20’ with reportedly hundreds of people, both from the base as well as from residential areas within a radius of several miles, injured.
The hospitals are not confirming details by phone on how many of those are in fact in critical condition, giving further indication that they are having both their hands full with the injured as well as been advised to avoid talking to the media.
Several thousand evacuees are according to another source assembled and kept at the national stadium in Dar, awaiting information from the authorities as to when they can return to their homes, many of which have of course been damaged if not destroyed, especially those near the explosion site – an ammunition dump at a major army base behind the international airport on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam. There is apprehension amongst those evacuated over possible looting as it happened in a similar incident in April 2009, when thieves and robbers were swift to take advantage of the ensuing chaos with police and other security services pre-occupied with dealing with the explosion and evacuations.
Following the initial explosion at one depot, the fire then seems to have spread and exploding ammunitions, mines and rockets then set yet more depots on fire causing additional explosions in the process – indicating that no lessons about keeping ammo dumps better protected and further apart were learned from earlier such incidents.
Meanwhile it has also been ‘leaked’ that for safety reasons operations at the Julius Nyerere International Airport will remain suspended until all fires are out and the remaining unexploded ordinance has been dealt with, been secured or safely transported away from the explosion site.
Air traffic bound for Dar has reportedly been diverted to the Kilimanjaro International Airport or flights were landing in Kenya when clearances – in view of the fluid situation – were withdrawn and aircraft advised to seek alternate landing points.
Watch this space for further updates as and when available.