EQUATORIAL GUINEA

A series of explosions shocks the economic capital

Malabo (Agenzia Fides) - At least 17 people died and 420 were injured yesterday, Sunday 7 March, in a series of 4/5 explosions in a barrack in Bata, the most populous city and also the economic capital of Equatorial Guinea, the local Ministry of Health reported.

The explosions shook the army's emergency barracks in the Nkoantoma neighborhood, which has a powder keg, although the cause of the accident has not been officially confirmed. The explosions caused a huge column of smoke and extensive damage to buildings in and around the military complex, which is near a popular housing area, whose inhabitants fled, many of whom were injured.

"Around 4pm on Sunday, March 7, the city of Bata was the victim of an accident caused by the negligence of the unit responsible for the guarding of the explosives at the Nkuantoma barracks", said President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, in a statement read by an Equatorial Guinea public television presenter.

According to the reconstruction of the facts provided by the Head of State, a first explosion, the most powerful, took place around 1.30 local time at the Mondong Nkuantoma barracks. The original explosion caused the ammunition stored in the same place to explode and "the shockwaves caused severe damage to almost all the houses in Bata". The President announced that the "necessary investigations to determine the responsibilities" of the accident will be undertaken.

The President provided a toll of 15 dead and 500 wounded, slightly different from that initially published by the Ministry of Health, which reported 17 dead and 420 wounded. The ministry said 200 wounded were at Nuevo Inseso Hospital, more than 150 at Bata General Hospital and 70 at La Paz Hospital.

The Ministry has asked the population for urgent blood donations to treat the wounded. Appeals for blood donation have been extended to Malabo, in the island part of the country.

Firefighters are already working on the rubble to try to rescue people who were trapped after the explosions, while the population has been moved within a radius of 4 km.

Source: fides.org

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