|Explosion impacts United Methodists in Mozambique|
A man videotapes a piece of
munitions from the ammunition depot that exploded on the outskirts of
Maputo, Mozambique, killing at least 100 people and injuring more than
450 others. UMNS Web-only photos by Ezequiel Marcos Nhantumbo.
By United Methodist News Service
March 27, 2007
An ammunition depot explosion near the capital of Mozambique has killed
at least 100 people, injured more than 450 others and damaged two
neighborhoods with United Methodist parishes.
A house is among structures damaged
by the March 22 explosion.
The March 22 explosion on the outskirts of Maputo sent munitions
flying in all directions in the metropolitan area, according to Carol
Kreamer, coordinator of The Mozambique Initiative, a program of the
United Methodist Missouri Annual (regional) Conference.
Government officials initially said a heat wave in Maputo caused the
hundreds of tons of weaponry to explode. However, there are mounting
accusations of government negligence, and residents are asking why the
arsenal wasn't closed after explosions occurred there in January.
President Armando Guebuza has announced the aging facility will be
Ezequiel Nhantumbo, the Mozambique Initiative representative, and his
family were not injured but their home was damaged and power knocked out
in the hard-hit neighborhood of Zimpeto. The neighborhood of Malhazine
also had significant damage.
Nhantumbo told Kreamer the destruction, with burned houses and
destroyed vehicles, was similar to what "you see on the television in
Weapons at the depot were not small arms. "There were missiles and
they were flying in every direction, even into the city of Maputo. No
place was safe," he said.
When the explosion occurred, Nhantumbo's wife, Celia, was traveling
near the school attended by their children, Elton and Andra. She got
them out of the school, but others were not so fortunate when a missile
hit a classroom.
Mrs. Nhantumbo said a son of Alexandre Machava, who works in the
conference office for the United Methodist Church in Mozambique, was
running away from the explosion when he was killed on the spot along
with two other students.
Other conference staff members have family, friends, and neighbors unaccounted for or destroyed homes, according to Kreamer.
Munitions, including this bomb, were scattered throughout Maputo.
Maria Helena Feluane, administrative assistant for Bishop João Somane
Machado, reported that many children have not been located. "For
example, we are not able to find our (7-year-old) nephew since
yesterday," she said on March 23. "We do not know what is happening with
him. Many other parents, relatives and citizens are in the same
situation as ours … moving around from police station to police station
trying to find our kids."
The explosion follows a series of natural disasters in Mozambique. On
Feb. 23, Cyclone Favio slammed into the coast of Mozambique and
subsequent rains caused widespread flooding, destroying at least nine
United Methodist parsonages and church buildings.
“There were missiles and they were flying in every direction, even into the city of Maputo. No place was safe.”
Nhantumbo asked United Methodists to pray for the people of Mozambique, according to Kreamer.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief is supporting two efforts to
provide relief through Action by Churches Together partners already
working in the area. They are providing shelter, blankets and other
items to some 8,000 families. UMCOR is also working with the United
Methodist Church in Mozambique to support their relief work.
United Methodists can aid emergency relief efforts, rehabilitation
for refugees and assistance for displaced people and communities by
contributing to "Mozambique Emergency," UMCOR Advance #156500.
Mail checks to UMCOR at P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087, with the
words "UMCOR Advance #156500, Mozambique Emergency" written on the memo
line. Credit card donations can be made by calling (800) 554-8583.
Donations are being accepted at http://secure.gbgm-umc.org/donations/advance/donate.cfm?code=156500&id=3018386.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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