Leonel Muchano
Displayed with permission from dpa German Press Agency

Maputo (dpa) – The Mozambican government on Friday decreed three days of mourning after the explosion of a fuel tanker killed 56 people.

Thursday’s explosion also injured 108 people, government spokesman Mouzinho Saide said.

About 30 of the victims were seriously injured, according to police. They included 16 children and a pregnant woman.

The government set up a ministerial team to investigate the causes of the accident.

Police spokeswoman Lurdes Ferreira told dpa that the tanker had run into mechanical problems in Caphiridzange in central Tete province.

The driver parked on the roadside and went to look for help. In his absence, local people came with buckets and other household receptacles to steal fuel from the tanker.

The exposure of fuel to high outside temperatures sparked an explosion, Ferreira said.

The tanker was ferrying 80,000 litres of petrol from the Mozambican port of Beira to neighbouring Malawi, according to media reports.

Ferreira said incidents of people trying to steal fuel from tankers were rare in the southern African country.