The pictures from the city of Bata in Equatorial Guinea are apocalyptic: after a series of explosions on the site of a barracks, entire streets are littered with rubble and the foundations of some houses are barely standing. Now the authorities of the authoritarian country have given new information about the victims of the incident.
At least 98 people have died. The number of victims had previously been estimated at at least 31. According to the health authorities’ new balance sheet, there were also 615 injured. 299 of them would still be treated in clinics, it said.
The disaster of the explosion occurred on Sunday afternoon in the city of Bata. President Teodoro Obiang had already named “negligence and inattention” as the cause on Sunday.
According to media reports, both soldiers and civilians were among the victims. On the Sunday after the explosions, a high column of smoke and people fleeing could be seen in pictures and videos that were distributed on Twitter.
The online portal Real Equatorial Guinea reported severe destruction and panic. The pressure waves were also felt in many remote buildings. According to other sources, there were three consecutive explosions.
President Obiang announced that dynamite and explosives depots had caught fire “when neighbors set fire to nearby farms.” The flames would have spread to the barracks. The pressure waves had “caused damage to almost all buildings and houses in the city of Bata.”
Obiong said he ordered an investigation to bring those responsible to justice. The president called on the people of Equatorial Guinea to remain calm. There is a lot of false news floating around.
With around 200,000 inhabitants, Bata is the largest city and at the same time the economic center of the former Spanish colony. Equatorial Guinea has been independent since 1968. For more than 40 years, 78-year-old Obiang has ruled the country with a hard hand.
In order to come to power, the then commander of the National Guard overthrew and executed his ruling uncle Macías Nguema. The opposition and international organizations repeatedly accuse Obiang of human rights violations.