At least 73 were killed and another 110 including children suffered severe burns when a fuel tanker which was carrying petrol from Mozambie to Malawi as some people were trying to siphon petrol in Tete province.
A report monitored by Nyasa Times on Radio Mozambique said dozens of charred bodies were scattered around the blast site in the town of Caphiridzange in Tete province.
Mozambique government officials believed more bodies might be in surrounding woods,. Some badly burned people had tried to run into a nearby river, the radio said.
A truck driver from Malawi (whose identity has not been independently verified) had turned off the main road to sell fuel to local residents, who were gathered around the vehicle when the fuel caught fire, according to Radio Mozambique.
Government of Mozambique issued a statement which said: “The incident occurred when citizens tried to take petrol from a truck. Because of the heat, the truck burst into flames, leading to the deaths of 43 people [the initial death toll] and causing burns in 110 others, according to investigators’ initial findings. Ambulances and medical personnel were deployed to the scene in order to assist the victims. The injured were evacuated to Tetehospital.”
Medical teams rushed to the scene of the accident, evacuating the injured in ambulances and other vehicles. Searchers looked for more victims, though their efforts were hampered as night fell.
The cause of the explosion was not immediately clear.
Citing Mozambican reports, the Portuguese news agency Lusa said one theory was that a fire near the tanker set off the blast, while another theory pointed to a lightning strike as residents were collecting the fuel.