Officials: 206 Killed in Republic of Congo Blasts
Blasts rocked the capital of the Republic of Congo Sunday after a weapons depot caught fire, officials said, killing at least 206 people and pinning countless others underneath collapsed buildings, including a church.
A morgue in Brazzaville took in 136 bodies Sunday afternoon, as more continued to arrive. A local hospital reported at least 237 patients wounded in the blasts.
Didier Boutsindi of the presidential office said untold numbers of people were trapped in St. Louis church, which collapsed.
“Many of the faithful are trapped in the debris of the church,” he said. “Several of the dead have been taken out and I confirm there are more deaths inside.”
He said others were killed in their homes.
“My uncle is among the people killed,” he said. “He was killed by the collapse of his house as he slept.”
Sunday’s blasts flattened buildings and shattered windows in the northern part of Brazzaville and sent more than 2,000 fleeing their homes, a witness said.
The munitions depot is near the president’s private residence, but he was at his official residence in another part of town and was not hurt. President Denis Sassou-Nguesso later visited the morgue, a hospital and the military hospital. He did not speak publicly.
The explosions echoed across the Congo River to Kinshasa, the capital of neighboring Congo, which is some 6 miles (10 kilometers) away. Residents there reported seeing plumes of smoke and feeling buildings shake.