Reuters International

COTONOU (Reuters) - An explosion at a waste burning site in Benin killed several people and injured hundreds more, the district chief of the town where it happened 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 kms (25 miles) northwest of the capital Cotonou, district chief Bruno Houssou told Reuters by telephone.

"There were hundreds of wounded, some deaths also," he said.

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.

(Reporting by Allegresse Sasse; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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