At least 15 killed in explosions at barracks in Equatorial Guinea

At least 15 people have been killed and more than 400 wounded in a series of explosions at a military barracks in Equatorial Guinea, state television has reported.

The blasts were due to the “negligent handling of dynamite” said the president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, in a statement read out on TVGE. He said the explosions took place at 4pm in the barracks in the neighbourhood of Mondong Nkuantoma in Bata and the impact had damaged almost all the buildings in the city.

There were some discrepancies with the death toll, with TVGE reporting 20 dead, a health ministry tweet saying 17 were killed and the president’s statement mentioning 15.

State television showed a huge plume of smoke rising above the explosion site as crowds fled, with people crying out, “we don’t know what happened, but it is all destroyed”.

The health ministry tweeted that workers are treating the injured at the site of the tragedy and in medical facilities, but feared people were still missing under the rubble.

Images on local media showed people screaming and running through the streets surrounded by debris and smoke. Roofs of houses were ripped off and wounded were being carried into a hospital.

The blasts were a shock for the oil-rich Central African nation. A doctor calling into TVGE, who went by his first name, Florentino, said the situation was a “moment of crisis” and that the hospitals were overcrowded. He said a sports centre set up for Covid-19 patients would be used to receive minor cases.

Broadcaster Radio Macuto said on Twitter that people were being evacuated within four kilometres of the city because the fumes might be harmful.

Following the blast, the Spanish embassy in Equatorial Guinea recommended on Twitter that, “Spanish nationals stay in their homes.”

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