A series of explosions at a military barracks in Equatorial Guinea killed at least 20 people and wounded hundreds of others, state television reported.
TVGE read out a statement from President Teodoro Obiang Nguema that said the explosions were due to the “negligent handling of dynamite” in the military barracks, located in the neighbourhood of Mondong Nkuantoma, in the port city of Bata.
The president said the impact of the explosions, which occurred at 4 p.m. local time, affected buildings across the city.
TVGE said that at least five explosions caused at least 20 deaths and wounded more than 400 others.
State television showed a huge plume of smoke rising above the explosion site as crowds fled, with many people crying out, “We don’t know what happened, but it is all destroyed.”
The Health Ministry tweeted that its health workers are treating the injured at the site of the tragedy and in medical facilities, but it feared people were still missing under the rubble.
Images on local media seen by The Associated Press show people screaming and crying as they run through the streets amid debris and smoke. Roofs of houses were ripped off and wounded people 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 hospitals were overcrowded. He said a sports centre set up for COVID-19 patients would be used to receive minor cases.
A radio station, Radio Macuto, said on Twitter that people were being evacuated within four kilometres of the city because the fumes might be harmful.
Following the blasts, the Spanish Embassy in Equatorial Guinea recommended on Twitter that “Spanish nationals stay in their homes.”