Equatorial Guinea Explosions: At least 98 killed and 600 wounded in blasts caused by ‘negligence’ in storing dynamite at a military base in Equatorial Guinea. Officials said more than a dozen people have been killed and hundreds injured in a series of powerful explosions at an army base in Equatorial Guinea’s largest Bata city. In a national television statement, President Teodoro Obiang said the negligence of a military unit caused the blasts on Sunday. Obiang, Equatorial Guinea President since 1979, has said that “farmers are squashing on their property,” the dynamites caught up in the fire because of “stubble-burning and the blasts have destroyed all the houses and buildings in Bata.”
Local TV depicted crowds of people removing corpses from dumps of scrap, others covered in sheets. Media calls for blood donations were also made, and hospitals were overloaded. Pickup vehicles, loaded with casualties, several of them being children, drove to a nearby hospital front where the survivors were recorded lying on the ground. The iron roofs were ripped off semi-destroyed houses and distorted among the ruins in the explosive field. Many homes kept only a wall or two. People were running helter-skelter in screams of fear and agony.
“We hear the explosion, and we see the smoke, but we don’t know what’s going on,” a resident said.
Will the Explosions Cause Political Instability in Equatorial Guinea?
Equatorial Guinea is a small 1.4 million-sized republic, and despite its rich oil deposits, most of the population lives in poverty. Obiang Nguema called for humanitarian help and said that for Equatorial Guinea, the crisis has occurred at an already troubling moment, “because of the economic crisis caused by falling petrol prices, and the COVID-19 pandemic”. Examining the damage scene, Obiang’s son, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, a vice president responsible for defense and security, appeared on the television video with his Israeli secret service agents.
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, Spanish nationals should remain home.” said Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya on Twitter.
Meanwhile, the French ambassador in Equatorial Guinea, Brochenin Olivier, expressed his “condolences for the catastrophe that has just occurred in Bata.” William Lawrence, a former US diplomat and regional security officer in West Africa, called the incident “highly shocking” and said Equatorial Guinea was not ready for a disaster of this scale.
“This is going to have quite a devastating effect on many levels,” he said. “Equatorial Guinea is one of Africa’s richest countries, with the least distribution of its oil wealth. There have been many coup attempts since independence, and so this is going to rock the boat.” “In the short term, the country’s leader will have to account for what happened,” said Lawrence.
“There have been frantic calls for blood donations, and we have pictures of people lying on hospital floors not getting treatment. I don’t think there’s a lot of disaster preparedness training on this scale, and I suspect a lot of what’s going on today is winging it, and already the country’s health services are hit quite hard by COVID-19, so this will be an added burden,” he added.