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Mozambique: Blasts Kill Dozens in Maputo

Maputo's Blasts
Photo by Alfredo Mueche, in “Domingo” weekly – March 25, 2007

Mozambique's capital Maputo is mourning the victims of a tragedy that could have been prevented, local bloggers say. Dozens were killed instantly when a series of bombs, mines and rounds of ammunition in the country's largest arms depot exploded late Thursday and descended on nearby poor neighborhoods, triggering fires and causing residents to flee in panic. Several hundred people were injured when shells and shrapnel were thrown into the air, as the initial blasts caused further detonations, in what can be considered the country's worst man made disaster outside a war zone . Officials blamed the high summer temperatures for the explosions, but bloggers are not happy with the explanation and want to elucidate the possible occurrence of negligence by the military. Citizens don't seem to trust the media to find out the thruth about the tragedy.

As explosões ocorridas quinta-feira num paiol em Maputo fizeram 96 mortos e mais de 400 feridos, segundo um balanço feito hoje pela Associação de Imprensa sul-africana. A cidade da Matola, a 12 quilómetros de Maputo, também foi atingida, registando-se oito mortos e dezenas de casas destruídas. Já está criada uma comissão de inquérito independente para apurar as causas dos rebentamentos. A comissão deverá apresentar conclusões dentro de duas semanas. Cerca de 20 toneladas de equipamento militar estariam armazenadas no paiol quando se deram as explosões. As chamas atingiram as zonas residenciais em redor e os rebentamentos destruíram várias casas. A população responsabiliza o Governo pelo desastre. Já em Janeiro tinha explodido outro paiol com armamento antigo.
Explosões do paiol em Maputo atingiram também a cidade da MatolaMoçambique para todos

The explosions at the arms depot on Thursday killed 96 and wounded more than 400, according to a count made by the South African Press Association. The city of Matola, 12 km from Maputo, also received the shelling, registering eight deaths and dozens of destroyed houses. There is already an independent inquiry committee established to determine the causes of the blasts, and it may present the findings in two weeks. There were almost twenty tons of military equipment in the arsenal when the blasts occurred. The flames reached the residential zone around the depot and the blasts destroyed many houses. The population is blaming the government for the disaster, as another depot with obsolete equipment had already exploded in January.
Explosions in an arsenal in Maputo also reached the city of MatolaMoçambique para todos

Neste sábado, dia 25 de Março, fizemos uma pequena ronda pelos bairros da capital moçambicana, cidade de Maputo, locais que foram mais atingidos pela explosão no maior depósito de munições em Moçambique – paiol de Malhazine. Pelas últimas informações, a explosão provocou cerca de 100 mortes e mais de 450 feridos (19 pessoas faleceram nos cuidados intensivos do Hospital Central de Maputo, noticiou a televisão pública moçambicana TVM). Em resultado da explosão também foi atingido o Hospital Psiquiátrico de Infulene e várias fábricas, armazens, locais de culto e residências, situados na zona do impacto. A televisão portuguesa, RTP, surpreendeu ontem pela negativa, pois no telejornal de 20h00 (hora portuguesa) não foi dito absolutamente nada sobre a situação em Maputo, com destaques para a universidade Moderna, FCP, DR Congo, Iraque, futebol, enfim, tudo menos situação no “país irmão”. E depois ainda vão falar do “relacionamento especial com a África lusófona”…
Explosão em MaputoUcrânia em África

On this Saturday, March 25, we've made a little inspection around the Mozambican capital, city of Maputo, at the places reached by the blasts at the largest arms depot in the country – Malhazine's arsenal. According to the latest information, the explosion caused 100 deaths and more than 450 wounded (19 people died while being treated at Maputo's Central Hospital, as reported by the Mozambican public television TVM). The Infulene Psychiatric Hospital was reached by the blasts and also many factories, warehouses, churches and residencies located near the impact zone. Portuguese television, RTP, surprised negatively for not showing absolutely anything about the Maputo situation on the News Show at 20:00 hs., but [instead] presenting the Modern university, FCP, DR Congo, Iraq, football — in sum, everything but the situation in our “brother country”. And they will afterwards talk about the “special relationship with the Lusophone Africa”…
Explosion in MaputoUcrânia em África

Foi preciso telefonar para lá para ficar a saber a dimensão dantesca da tragédia. O horror e o medo. A angústia de se saber, e aos seus, e aos seus meninos, abandonado ao destino e tudo o que se pode fazer é manter as crianças em casa e longe das janelas enquanto os projécteis voam, os cadáveres se semeiam, os destroços se acumulam, as explosões continuam. É como se estivéssemos no Iraque. (In)compreensível a (in)sensibilidade com que o (não) assunto foi tratado nos media* portugueses. Inaceitável.
Medo, Morte e Destruição em MaputoLida Insana

I had to call there in order to know about the terrible dimension of the tragedy. The horror and the fear. The anguish of finding yourself, and your family and friends, and your kids, abandoned to their own destiny, and all they can do is keep the children at home and far from the windows while the shells fly, the corpses appears, the ruble accumulates, and the explosions go on and on. It's like being in Iraq. (Un)comprehensible the (un)acquaintance and the (un)reporting about the issue in the Portuguese media. Unacceptable.
Fear, Death and Destruction in MaputoLida Insana


While soldiers are still going through
the neighborhoods near the depot to collect the munitions that had not exploded, the government declared three days of mourning and set up a commission of inquiry into the accident. The 20 tons of obsolete arms and munitions dating from the country's civil war, from 1976 to 1992, had been stockpiled in a depot set to be destroyed, and it was the second time in less than two months that the aging explosives in the arsenal have detonated. Bloggers want to know what made the military wait so long to take action and prevent the tragedy.

Mesmo que não tenha havido intenção, este caso mostra que os militares devem ser devidamente motivados a serem cuidadosos, rigorosos e inflexíveis com os seus materiais, e todos os aspectos da segurança. São coisas de tal maneira sensíveis e perigosas que não toleram desleixos. É mais um aspecto que deve levar os governantes a não os tratar como vulgares funcionários públicos. Têm especificidades que devem ser tidas em consideração e que devem ser devidamente compensadas, pois não estamos em época histórica que tolere a escravatura. A cada um segundo o seu esforço, sacrifício e restrições de direitos, liberdades e garantias.
Os militares e as especificidades de suas missõesDo Mirante

Even if there were no bad intentions, this case shows that the military must be motivated to be be careful, rigorous and inflexible with their equipment, and all the aspects involving security. These are such sensitive and dangerous things that they do not tolerate negligence. It is one more aspect that should lead our governors not to treat them as ordinary public servants. They have specific circumstances that should be taken into account and should be duly acknowledged, because we are not living a historical time which condones slavery. [Unfortunately,] each second of their effort and sacrifice is followed by more restriction on their rights and guarantees.
The military and their missions’ specificitiesDo Mirante

O que a Renamo nunca conseguiu, nos 16 anos de guerra, conseguiu-o o Ministério da Defesa sem precisar de ter nenhum inimigo pela frente. Com a agravante de terem sido destruidas as linhas de transporte de energia para as províncias de Gaza e Inhambane, que ficaram totalmente às escuras. Porque o que aconteceu em Maputo não foi uma catástrfe natural, imprevisivel. O que aconteceu em Maputo já rinha acontecido antes, quer em Maputo quer na Beira. Tinha acontecido, em nível muito menor, em Maputo há menos de dois meses. E, para além do paleio do costume, ninguém tinha feito nada, o que resultou nesta gigantesca roleta russa em que os projecteis levantavam voo, descontrolados, sem ninguém saber onde iriam parar. E sabendo, pela boca do Ministro da Defesa, que poderiam atingir qualquer lugar num raio de 30 quilómetros. No Jornal da Manhã, da Rádio Moçambique de 23 de Março, ouvi, estarrecido, o mesmo Ministro a dizer que todo aquele material homicida estava ao ar livre, ao Sol e à chuva.
Guerra contra o povoIdéias para Debate

What the Renamo has never achieved in 16 years of war, the Ministry of Defense has done without no enemy around. With the aggravation of having destroyed the energy transmission lines to the provinces of Gaza and Inhambane, which were left in the dark. What happened in Maputo was not a unpredictable natural catastrophe. What happened in Maputo had already happened before, either in Maputo or in Beira. It has happened in Maputo to a much smaller degree less than two months ago. But beyond the conventional talking nobody did anything about it, which resulted in this giant Russian roulette where the shells were launched through the air uncontrolled, with no one knowing where they would land. The worst is to be informed by the Minister of Defense that the ammunition could reach any place in a 30 kilometer radius. In the morning news, on Mozambique radio on March 23, I was astonished to hear the same minister saying that all that homicidal material was in the open, suffering from the action of sun and rains.
War against the peopleIdéias para Debate

Segundo o Ministério da Defesa as explosões verificaram-se devido a deficiências eléctricas, mais precisamente, devido a um curto-circuito. Ora de acordo com informações que obtive de Maputo no local não há energia eléctrica. Mais grave ainda, é o facto deste paiol estar quase em situação de quase total ostracismo desde a retirada do exército colonial, mantendo-se lá, material deste período e material obsoleto da época em que a Frelimo tinha o seu exército. A ser verdade esta constatação é uma grave incúria.
Paiol de Maputo volta a explodirPululu

According to the Ministry of Defense the blasts occurred because of failures in the electrical system — more precisely, due to a short-circuit. But, according to information obtained in Maputo, the place doesn't have any electric energy. More serious indeed is the fact that this arsenal is in a situation of total exclusion since the time of the colonial army's withdrawal, keeping equipment there from that time and also from the time that the Frelimo had it's army. If the information is true, this is a case of serious negligence.
Maputo's Arsenal Explodes AgainPululu

Moçambique já tem um escol considerável de juventude que sabe fazer contas, lê jornais e acede à Internet. Além de que o povo mais humilde, mas nem sempre idiota, vai percebendo melhor os meandros escuros do poder e fazendo algumas contas de cabeça. De cabeça, mas contas. Por isso, Guebuza tem de aplicar alguns dos ensinamentos que supostamente terá colhido dos seus colonizadores. Mandar abrir um rigoroso inquérito e deixar ficar tudo na mesma. Ou mandar abrir um rigoroso inquérito, realmente descobrir o que se passou e explicar como é que morrem mais de cem pessoas porque estava muito calor e um curto-circuito não sei quê…
PumEspumadamente

Mozambique already has a considerable contingent of young people who already know how to count, read newspapers and surf the Internet. Besides, the simple and humble people they are not always stupid, and they keep gaining a better awareness of the dark sides of power and they are starting to make their heads count. They make it in their heads, but they can count. That's why Guebuza [Mozambique's President] will have to apply what he has supposedly learned from the colonizers. To order the opening of a rigorous inquiry and leave all as it is. Or ordering the opening of a rigorous inquiry to really find out what happened and explain how more than 100 people died because it was too hot, or because of a short-circuit nobody knows about…
PumEspumadamente


Mozambicans are still counting the casualties
, and it seems that Lusophone bloggers will follow closely the reports, the inquiries and the coverage presented by the media on the developments in Maputo's arms depot blasts. On the other side of the network, new kinds of audiences are being formed.

A tragédia já ocorreu, agora é a altura das estatísticas. Quantos mortos, quantos funerais, quantas brigadas da Frelimo no terreno, quantos kits de comida a distribuir amanhã, quantas crianças desaparecidas. Através da Rádio Moçambique, a directora clínica do Hospital Central de Maputo, por exemplo, afirmou há momentos que agora são 101 mortos. Um funcionário sénior do Estado afirmou que devem estar ainda desaparecidas 200 crianças. Temos, agora, a era do fait divers, do espectáculo, dos números, do amortecimento.
Estatísticas, fait divers, espectáculoDiário de Um Sociólogo

The tragedy has already occurred, now is the time of the numbers. How many deaths, how many funerals, how many Frelimo brigades on the site, how many food kits to deliver tomorrow, how many lost children. I've heard on Moazambique Radio, the Clinical Director of Maputo's Central Hospital affirmed that up to now there were 101 dead. A senior state official said there were 200 children still missing. We have now the time of ‘fait divers’, of the spectacle, of the numbers, of desensitizing.
Estatísticas, fait divers, espectáculoDiário de Um Sociólogo

We certainly live in an age of information overload, and with so much access it is interesting to note what things we do pay attention to and whose cries we have ears to hear. We have all heard the recent cries of Britney Spears (if you shop at a grocery store you have not been able to escape them), but how many of us have heard those of our brothers and sisters in Kinshasa or Mozambique?
Ears to HearThe Margins

A last search on the Blogosphere brought some footage of the blasts, and an indication of a Google Earth link to a better visualization of the place.


Mozambique weapons depot explosion caught on cam killing 72

Veja o paiol de Malhazine pelo Google Earth, com o zoom pode verificar a existência de dois pavilhões (chamemos-lhes assim) que desapareceram. É crível que vários outros armazéns ainda existam.
Paiol de Malhazine pelo Google EarthDiário de um sociólogo

See the Malhazine's arsenal through Google Earth. With a zoom it's possible to verify the existence of the two buildings (or, it seems that way) that disappeared. We believe that many other warehouses still exist.
Malhazine's Arsenal through Google EarthDiário de um sociólogo

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