|Video footage from Citizen TV
Twenty-four people were killed and more than 300 injured when a large military depot exploded in the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam, on 16 February.
Dangerous ammunition from the depot on Gongo la Mboto base was widely dispersed across the surrounding residential area, destroying many houses and leaving hundreds of people homeless. Rockets from the depot were projected as far away as 14 kilometres by the blast.
"When something like this happens it is crucial to make the public aware of the threat, and make sure they know how to recognise dangerous items."
Louise Skilling, MAG Regional Community Liaison Manager
MAG responded to the emergency by sending one of our technical Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) experts, based in Rwanda, and our Nairobi-based Regional Community Liaison Manager, trained in the targeted delivery of risk education messages, to Dar es Salaam the day after the explosions.
They were able to provide advice and support to the Tanzanian national authorities in the aftermath of the blast -– the second time in two years that a military depot had exploded in the city.
Although the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces had begun the clearance of items outside of the depot, much of the surrounding residential area was still contaminated with dangerous items that had been projected by the explosion but had not exploded, posing a great threat to people living nearby.
Dar es Salaam
Those most at risk were identified as children, metal collectors and the general public living in the contaminated areas. MAG liaised closely with the Tanzanian police to best communicate key warning messages.
Louise Skilling, MAG’s Regional Community Liaison Manager, who worked with Police’s Special Zone Commander Suleiman Kova and his team in the days after the explosion, said: “When something like this happens, it is crucial to make the public aware of the threat and make sure they know how to recognise dangerous items.
"People need to know the risks, so they can make better informed decisions about their safety, and avoid as much as possible further injuries or deaths.
“It’s also important that we tell community members how to report any dangerous items they do find, so arrangement can be made for them to be removed by EOD experts. Getting these vital messages out to people is what we worked with Commander Kova on in the days after the explosion.”
Based on the unexploded ordnance seen in the residential areas, MAG produced a document [below] with pictures of different ordnance for the Special Zone Police Team to use when educating the public how to recognise the dangerous items.
9 March 2011
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