UGADADUGU, Burkina Faso (AP) – A series of bomb blasts at a military barracks in Equatorial Guinea has killed at least 20 people and injured more than 600 on Sunday, officials say.
President Theodore Obiang Nguyema said the blast, which struck at 4pm local time, was caused by “careless dynamite blasting” at a military barracks near Mondong Nquantoma in Bata.
“The bomber struck shortly after noon in front of a rally in Bataan, killing at least 40 people and wounding dozens more.
The Ministry of Defense issued a statement late Sunday evening, saying that the fire in the barracks caused an explosion of high-caliber ammunition. It said the death toll was 20 and ՝ 600 were injured, adding that the cause of the blasts would be fully investigated.
The president said the fire could have been started by residents burning the fields around the barracks.
State television showed huge smoke rising above the site of the explosion as the crowd fled, with many shouting. “We do not know what happened, but it is devastated.”
Local media images seen by The Associated Press show LMs as people shouting and crying through the streets amid the smoke of the debris. The roofs of the houses were torn off and the injured were taken to hospital.
Equatorial Guinea, a country of 1.3 million Africans south of Cameroon, was part of the Spanish colony until its independence in 1968. Bata has about 175,000 inhabitants.
Earlier, the Ministry of Health wrote on Twitter that 17 people were killed, and the president’s statement mentioned 15 dead.
The Ministry of Health called on blood donors and volunteers to visit the de Bata Regional Hospital, one of three hospitals treating the wounded.
The ministry said its health workers were treating the injured at the scene of the tragedy, in medical facilities, but feared that people were still missing under the rubble.
The blasts rocked the oil-rich Central African nation. Foreign Minister Simeon Oyo Esono Angoue met with foreign ambassadors and asked for help.
“We can ask our brother countries for help in this tragic situation, because we have an emergency (because of COVID-19) և the tragedy in Bata,” he said.
The doctor who called TVGE, who called himself Florentino, said that the situation was “a moment of crisis” and that the hospitals were overcrowded. He said the sports center set up for COVID-19 patients would be used to receive juveniles.
Radio Macuto said on Twitter that people were being evacuated four kilometers from the city because the fumes could be harmful.
Following the blast, the Spanish embassy in Equatorial Guinea tweeted that “Spanish citizens should stay at home.”
Joseph Joseph Wilson from Barcelona, Spain.
The previous version of this story has been corrected to show that state television is TVGE, not TGVE.