The death toll following a series of explosions at a military barracks in Equatorial Guinea on March 7 has risen to 98, the country’s health ministry has said. In a statement, the ministry said that of the 615 people injured, 316 have been discharged and 299 remain in care in the various hospitals in the coastal city of Bata.
In a statement, Equatorial Guinea’s Vice-President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue said that a preliminary investigation indicated that the incident was caused by a fire breaking out on land close to the Nkoantoma Military Base in Bata. The fire was started while a farmer was preparing his plot for food cultivation, close to powder kegs at the military base. The breeze caused the fire to spread rapidly and reach a part of the base where explosives were stored, causing them to explode. The shockwave is thought to have led to the destruction of several nearby homes, buildings and vehicles.
The initial estimated death toll of 31 more than tripled on March 8 after rescue workers and locals began searching rubble for survivors. Around 60 people were found alive amongst the rubble on March 8. Images and footage posted on social media show several bodies wrapped in sheets lined up along the side of the road in Bata with more bodies being recovered from under rubble.
President H. E. Obiang Nguema Mbasogo said that the Government would hold an emergency meeting to discuss how the country would help the victims of the incident. He also called on the population to keep calm and ignore the hoaxes, comments and negative reports which have appeared on social media regarding the event.
President Mbasogo said that he has ordered a full investigation into the incident. The former Spanish colony also called for international support and help with rebuilding. The Spanish Foreign Minister announced on social media that the country would dispatch humanitarian aid immediately.