Large blasts rock army ammo bunker in Tanzanian city, casualties unknown

February 17th, 2011 - 6:26 am ICT by BNO News  

DAR ES SALAAM (BNO NEWS) — A series of large explosions rocked an army ammunition bunker in the Tanzanian city of Dar Es Salaam on Wednesday, not far from the international airport, according to the UK Foreign Office and witnesses.

An updated travel advice from UK Foreign Office said an army ammunitions bunker in the Mbagala district of Dar Es Salaam, the largest city in Tanzania, had exploded. “Debris is reaching as far as the Oyster Bay area on the peninsula,” it said.

Witnesses said the explosions, which began in the late afternoon, continued for hours and shook homes in the area. Photos were posted to several websites which showed large explosions in the sky over Dar Es Salaam.

The Mbagala ordnance depot is located on the outskirts of the city and is situated next to a military base. Residential homes are also nearby the site, increasing the likelihood of casualties.

“The police have set up an evacuation centre at Saba Saba grounds,” the UK Foreign Office said. “It is believed the evacuation range is currently 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from the explosion site.”

It was not immediately clear if there were casualties but witnesses reported a chaotic scene in the city. “We are not aware of any British nationals involved in the incident,” the UK Foreign Office said.

Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar Es Salaam was closed as a result of the incident. “We believe the airport is closed but will re-open at first light, after checks have been made, but we advise all British nationals to contact their airline to confirm onward travel,” the UK Foreign Office said.

The airport’s website was offline as of Wednesday evening and it was not immediately clear how many flights had been affected by the unexpected closure. Several airlines, such as KLM, had delayed flights to Dar Es Salaam.

In April 2009, another series of explosions at Dar es Salaam’s army ammunition bunker killed at least 11 people and seriously injured more than 1,000 others.

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