By NY Staff
A series of explosions rocked an arms depot in Yemen’s second city of Aden Saturday, killing at least tens of people as looters swarmed the facility, witnesses and an official said.
The blasts were heard across the city and pillars of smoke rose from the depot, where looting had broken out a day earlier, an AFP correspondent reported.
The depot is at the foot of Jabal Hadid mountain overlooking the port, and a large amount of weapons dating back to the Soviet era were stored in a cave there.
Troops guarding the depot abandoned their posts this week after their commanders fled as chaos tightened its grip on the war-torn country.
Houses shook, windows were shattered and several nearby buildings were destroyed in Saturday’s explosions, residents said.
“We have so far retrieved tens of charred bodies,” health department director Al-Kheder Lassouar said.
“We have information that there are more bodies inside that we were not able to reach” as explosions continued after people entered the depot to loot it, he added.
Many people were inside or on Jabal Hadid when the explosions took place, witnesses said, reporting that several had died in the looting even before the blasts.
One resident who was at the mountain earlier on Saturday before the explosions said that “there were many dead bodies in the cave”.
“People entering to take weapons were killed by others who didn’t find what they were looking for,” he said.
Others reported seeing several people die of suffocation after inhaling toxic gases released from gunpowder stored inside the deep cave. Several others were stabbed, residents say.