ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Hundreds of people died of blast effects or burned to death when an ammunition dump exploded on the outskirts of Addis Ababa on the last day of Ethiopia's civil war, it was learned Saturday.
A vile stench hung over hundreds of incinerated corpses strewn around a deep crater when reporters reached the disaster site in the western suburb of Shagole.
Rebels captured the capital last Tuesday. The arms store exploded the same day, after government troops left Shagole.
"It was a terrible, big blast at about noon on Tuesday," said Giuseppe Osella, an Italian who lives nearby. "I believe more than 1,000 died here."
Local residents were unable to say exactly what the bunker stored.
Hundreds of people who were inside the bunker or around its entrance were consumed in flames or torn apart by the force of the blast.
News of the explosion dramatically raised the death toll--originally thought to be about 200 people--in the battle for the capital.