Four powerful explosions left at least fifteen dead and 500 wounded, Sunday March 7 in the middle of the afternoon, in a military camp and its surroundings in Bata, economic capital of Equatorial Guinea, according to an initial report communicated by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema.
In a statement read on the public channel Television of Guinea Ecuatorial (TVGE), the head of state who, at 78, holds the world record for longevity as a living president, said the explosions were “An accident due to the negligence of the unit in charge of storing explosives, dynamite and ammunition” in the military camp in the Nkoa Ntoma district, which houses, in particular, elements of the special forces and the gendarmerie.
“The blast of the explosion damaged almost all the buildings in Bata”, the statement continued. The ministry of health assessed, a little earlier in the day on Sunday, at “At least 400” the number of injured.
Houses reduced to ruins
Bata is the largest city in this country of 1.4 million people, rich in oil and gas, but whose ruling regime is regularly accused of human rights abuses by its opponents and international organizations. More than 800,000 Equatorial Guineans live in poverty. The city is located on its mainland part of the country when the capital, Malabo, is on Bioko Island.
The public channel of this small Central African state has been broadcasting for several hours many images of houses reduced to ruins in the vicinity of the military camp, of wounded – especially children – uprooted from the rubble by civilians and firefighters and others lying on the floor in a hospital and placed on a drip.
“We hear the explosions and we see the smoke but we don’t know what’s going on”, testified to AFP a resident of Bata, reached by phone. The vice-president in charge of defense and security, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, nicknamed Teodorin, the president’s son presented as his dolphin, appeared on TVGE surveying the rubble surrounded by a handful of his usual bodyguards Israelis.