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206 killed, thousand injured in munitions depot explosions in Republic of Congo

 This video image taken across the Congo river in Kinshasa, Congo Sunday March 4, 2012 shows a blast that rocked Brazzaville the capital of the Republ...
 Injured people are treated in a hospital hallway after multiple explosions occurred at a munitions depot, in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo Sunday, M...

Republic of Congo Explosions

This video image taken across the Congo river in Kinshasa, Congo Sunday March 4, 2012 shows a blast that rocked Brazzaville the capital of the Republ...

Republic of Congo Explosions

Injured people are treated in a hospital hallway after multiple explosions occurred at a munitions depot, in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo Sunday, M...

More than 200 people were killed and some 1,500 people were injured after a munitions depot exploded Sunday in the Republic of Congo’s capital Brazzaville, damaging buildings as far away as the neighboring city of Kinshasa across the Congo River.

206 people were killed, Associated Press reported, citing government spokesman Bienvenu Okyemi.

Homes and buildings collapsed, windows shattered in a three-mile (five-kilometer) radius surrounding the barracks storing the munitions, including across the river that separates Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo, from Kinshasa, the capital of the larger Central African nation of Congo.

Government spokesman Bienvenu Okyemi blamed a short-circuit for the fire that set off the successive blasts. The first blast went off at around 8 a.m., and several smaller blasts were heard throughout the morning. Another major explosion went off at around 1 p.m.

The register of a morgue in Brazzaville already had 136 bodies Sunday afternoon, as more continued to arrive. A doctor at the capital’s military hospital who asked not to be named reported 70 more deaths.

Okyemi put the official toll at 146 dead, at a late-night news conference, but said rescue workers still were looking for corpses. The death toll is expected to rise as many remained trapped inside crushed structures.

Residents woke up thinking that either an earthquake had hit them, or else a coup was under way in this nation that suffered through a 1997 civil war. Defense Minister Charles Zacharie Boawo appeared on national television to urge calm.

“I call for the Congolese population to remain calm,” Bowao said. “The explosions that you have heard don't mean there is a war or a coup.”

President Denis Sassou-Nguesso toured two hospitals and a morgue as injured people were being brought in including a 4-year-old boy who had lost his leg.

“We are trying to organize ourselves. I am asking the population to show courage and solidarity. ... All the material and human loss will be evaluated and the government will take a just decision,” Sassou-Nguesso said.


Updated : 2021-05-16 09:47 GMT+08:00