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Rescue Efforts Continue for Afghan Weapons Depot Blast - 2002-06-29


Recovery efforts continue in southern Afghanistan as officials continue the search for clues to what caused Thursday's massive explosion at a weapons depot in Spin Boldak.

The full extent of casualties remains unclear, with 25 people confirmed dead and dozens of others listed as injured or missing. Officials said Saturday that search teams reported problems recovering victims from the rubble due to unexploded rockets and other weapons that were hurled more than a kilometer away.

Authorities initially blamed the explosion on a rocket attack, although no one has claimed responsibility, while other reports say it may have been an accident.

The French news agency quotes one local official (Fazaludin Agha) as saying an electrical short-circuit was to blame. Another official (who requested anonymity) is quoted as saying he believes the blast was triggered by four timebombs planted in the depot. The blast destroyed the depot, a warehouse and an adjacent mosque, and caused heavy damage to nearby houses and local offices of United Nations relief agencies.

Meanwhile, there have been no reports of casualties from two explosions earlier today in the capital Kabul. Witnesses said the blasts came from the direction of the airport outside the city. The Associated Press quotes a spokeswoman for the International Security Assistance Force as saying the first blast was a controlled explosion, but that she had no information on the second blast.

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