President Teodoro Obiang says blasts caused by negligence related to use of dynamite at military base.
More than a dozen people have been killed and hundreds wounded in a series of powerful explosions at a military base in Equatorial Guinea’s largest city of Bata, according to officials.
In a statement on national television, President Teodoro Obiang said the blasts on Sunday were caused by negligence related to the use of dynamite at the military base. No other details were immediately available.
Obiang, who has ruled Equatorial Guinea since 1942, said at least 15 people were killed and 500 wounded in the explosions.
His statement came some two hours after the health ministry said on Twitter that 17 people had so far been confirmed dead, while the number of wounded stood at 420.
There were fears the death toll could rise.
Local television showed groups of people pulling bodies from piles of rubble, some of which were carried away wrapped in bedsheets. There were also media appeals for people to donate blood, saying hospitals are overwhelmed.
Pick-up trucks filled with survivors, many of whom were children, drove up to the front of a local hospital where some victims were filmed lying on the floor.
In the blast area, iron roofs were ripped off half-destroyed houses and lay twisted amid the rubble. Only a wall or two remained of most houses. People ran in all directions, many of them screaming.
“We hear the explosion and we see the smoke, but we don’t know what’s going on,” a local resident named Teodoro Nguema told the AFP news agency by telephone.
Equatorial Guinea is a small country of some 1.4 million, with the majority of the population living in poverty despite rich oil reserves.
Obiang’s son, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, vice president with responsibility for defence and security, appeared in the television footage at the scene inspecting the damage, accompanied by his Israeli bodyguards, according to AFP.
Teodorin, as he is known, is increasingly seen as the designated successor of the 78-year-old president.
A raíz de las explosiones acaecidas hoy en la ciudad de Bata, se recomienda a los nacionales españoles que permanezcan en sus domicilios. pic.twitter.com/HKU3MhGZQf
— Emb. España Malabo (@EmbEspMalabo) March 7, 2021
Translation: Following the explosions that occurred today in the city of Bata, Spanish nationals are recommended to remain at home, the embassy said.
After the blast, the Spanish embassy in the capital, Malabo, requested its nationals to remain at home. “Following developments in Equatorial Guinea with concern after the explosions in the city of Bata,” said Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya on Twitter.
Separately, the French ambassador in Equatorial Guinea, Brochenin Olivier, expressed his “condolences for the catastrophe that has just occurred in Bata”.