Equatorial Guinea explosion

Hundreds of casualties in Equatorial Guinea after a munitions factory explodes

Photo by EPA.

— 2 minute read — by Sam Feierabend

A series of explosions at a munitions factory in Equatorial Guinea leaves at least 100 people dead, with a further 615 injured.

The explosions took place on 7th March, at a military base located just outside the West African country’s capital city, Bata. The government blame poorly stored dynamite along with ‘stubble burning’ – the intentional ignition of grain waste by farmers – as the reasons for the blasts.

Many buildings in the vicinity of the base were destroyed meaning that some casualties took days to recover. Consequently, the initial death toll of 31 tripled in the days that followed as rubble was cleared.

The health ministry of Equatorial Guinea sent out an urgent plea for volunteer health workers along with mental health officers to help tend to people affected by the incident. The underdeveloped country lacks a solid healthcare infrastructure, so images broadcast on state TV showed crowded hospitals with casualties stricken on the floor rather than in care beds.

The only opposition party in Equatorial Guinea, the CPDS, described the incident as “the greatest humanitarian catastrophe in the history of Equatorial Guinea”. With the country once being a part of the Spanish empire, the foreign minister in Madrid promised shipments of foreign aid to the West African nation immediately.

The tragic event sparked further criticism of controversial president Obiang Nguema, who has been in power since 1979, and long been accused of corruption, and harbouring unsafe working conditions for workers. The explosions highlighted the disregard for safe conditions in a highly important area. The safe storage of munitions in this region is particularly essential to keeping the population safe.

The explosions constitute another case example of poor government in a post-colonial African nation, and further intervention may be needed to ensure events of this nature do not happen again.