World News

Benin burning waste explosion kills two people

COTONOU (Reuters) - An explosion at a waste burning site in Benin killed two people and injured at least 60, the health ministry said on Friday.

The blast struck late on Thursday as a crowd of people sifted through piles of expired food that had been dumped in Tori, a town about 40 km (25 miles) northwest of the capital Cotonou, several officials told Reuters.

Health Ministry spokesman Dieudonne Katakoula gave the updated figures by telephone.

Earlier, district chief Bruno Houssouin had said there were “several killed and hundreds of wounded.”

In much of West Africa safety standards on industrial and waste management sites is poor. Ordinary rubbish is dumped alongside electronic and toxic waste or flammable materials.

And unlike in the West, where the only people on such sites are waste management staff, poverty forces the poorest West Africans to sift through others’ waste in search of subsistence.

Another local councillor, Augustin Dianou, said that gasoline was being used to burn some of the food waste, which had caused the blast as people were filling sacks with discarded flour.

Reporting by Allegresse Sasse and Samuel Elijah; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Jon Boyle and Dominic Evans