Dar es Salaam (Agencies): A military ammunition depot in Tanzania's largest city blew up overnight in a series of explosions that levelled homes, killed at least 25 people and wounded about 145 others. Thousands ran for their lives, and 200 children have been unable to find their parents.

Several houses and a school were levelled during Wednesday night's explosions, which sent huge orange bursts into the night sky over Dar es Salaam. Debris showered parts of the city 10 miles from the Gongola Mboto military base where the depot was located.

It was at least the second such ammunition depot explosion at a military base in Dar es Salaam since 2009.

Abdallah Shimbo, the army's chief of staff, said today that 25 people died from the blasts. A military spokesman said the explosions were accidental but gave no details. A hospital administrator Mussa Wambura, said about 145 people were injured, some "badly hit by the blasts."

The blasts closed the city's international airport, near the Gongola Mboto military base. Some 4,000 residents were evacuated to the national stadium in Dar es Salaam, which lies along the Indian Ocean in East Africa.

When the explosions hit, thousands of people living in nearby neighbourhoods fled, said Julius Kejo, a Red Cross worker helping at a shelter for displaced people. The blasts sent residents scrambling in all directions, scattering families and separating parents from their children.

"It was panic. It was many people moving away, because it happened in the night, thousands of people moving," Kejo said.

"People were just running, so some children were lost in the mobs of people. Now at the centers we are trying to get them connected with their relatives."