Four accidental explosions in a military camp in Equatorial Guinea’s largest city of Bata claimed at least 20 lives and left around 600 people injured on Sunday. The explosions obliterated neighbouring residential areas as well. In a statement on national television, Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang said the blasts were caused due to the “negligent handling of dynamite” in the military barracks.
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema said the accident had occurred after local farmers allowed a fire in the area to burn out of control, setting alight explosives that had been badly stored by soldiers at the military camp.
In the statement, Obiang Nguema said, "The city of Bata has been the victim of an accident caused by the negligence of the unit in charge of storing explosives, dynamite, and ammunition at the Nkoa Ntoma military camp."
“The impact of the explosion caused damage in almost all the houses and buildings in Bata," he added.
Visuals recorded by a local news channel showed children and adults being pulled from the rubble and chaotic scenes at the hospital in Bata, with the wounded lying on the floor waiting for treatment.
Equatorial Guinea, an African country of 1.3 million people located south of Cameroon, was a colony of Spain until it gained its independence in 1968. Bata has roughly 175,000 inhabitants. The blasts came as a shock for the oil-rich Central African nation. Foreign Minister Simeón Oyono Esono Angue met with foreign ambassadors and asked for aid.
“It is important for us to ask our brother countries for their assistance in this lamentable situation since we have a health emergency (due to COVID-19) and the tragedy in Bata,” he said.