Somali Bus Explosion, Fire : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Nando Times

MOGADISHU, Somalia (May 19, 2001 10:37 a.m. EDT) - A piece of luggage, apparently filled with gunpowder, exploded on a bus Saturday and started a fire that killed 26 passengers trapped, a Red Crescent official said.

The public bus caught fire near Halgan, 150 miles north of Mogadishu, after leaving Bulo Burte for the regional capital, Beleteuin, said Abdulleh Abdi Ali, a volunteer with the Somali Red Crescent Society.

Abdi, who was among the first rescuers to reach the bus, said the doors and windows were locked, preventing the passengers from escaping. The bus driver escaped through a window next to his seat; six people riding on the roof also survived.

One of the survivors said a passenger was carrying a piece of luggage filled with gunpowder, which had been placed near the engine compartment. The heat from the engine apparently caused the powder to explode and start a fire.

"We first saw an explosion near the engine of the bus before huge flames engulfed the bus," one survivor said.

Abdi said the bus was also carrying a gasoline engine, which may have helped spread the fire inside the bus. Others said the bus was also carrying two barrels of gasoline.

Abdi said he has been helping relatives identify the victims, but some of the dead were burned beyond recognition.

Some militiamen in this East African country have begun disassembling their bullets to sell the copper casings and the gunpowder separately to raise money. The bag filled with gunpowder was probably on its way to be sold at the market in Beleteuin.

-- Rachel Gibson (, May 19, 2001

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