President Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea has told local press that a series of explosions at a military barracks killed at least 20 people and wounded more than 600 others on Sunday.
According the President, the explosion at 4 p.m. local time was due to the “negligent handling of dynamite” in the military barracks located in the neighborhood of Mondong Nkuantoma in Bata.
“The impact of the explosion caused damage in almost all the houses and buildings in Bata,” the president said in a statement, which was in Spanish.
The defense ministry released a statement late Sunday saying that a fire at a weapons depot in the barracks caused the explosion of high-caliber ammunition. It said the provisional death toll was 20, adding that the cause of the explosions will be fully investigated.
The country’s president said the fire may have been due to residents burning the fields surrounding the barracks.
State television showed a huge plume of smoke rising above the explosion site as crowds fled, with many people crying out “we don’t know what happened, but it is all destroyed.”
Images on local media seen by The Associated Press show people screaming and crying running through the streets amid debris and smoke. Roofs of houses were ripped off and wounded people were being carried into a hospital.
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.
Earlier, the Health Ministry had tweeted that 17 were killed. The ministry made a call for blood donors and volunteer health workers to go to the Regional Hospital de Bata, one of three hospitals treating the wounded.
The ministry said its health workers were treating the injured at the site of the tragedy and in medical facilities, but feared people were still missing under the rubble.
The blasts were 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.
A doctor calling into TVGE, who went by his first name, Florentino, said the situation was a “moment of crisis” and that the hospitals were overcrowded. He said a sports center set up for COVID-19 patients would be used to receive minor cases.
Radio station, Radio Macuto, said on Twitter that people were being evacuated within four kilometers of the city because the fumes might be harmful.
Following the blast, the Spanish Embassy in Equatorial Guinea recommended on Twitter that “Spanish nationals stay in their homes.”
Missing Nigerian Air Force Jet Found Crashed
The Nigerian Air Force has announced it has discovered its missing jet days after it disappeared from radar while in action attacking rebel bases.
Details indicate that the missing Alpha jet was discovered to have crashed at Abba-Jille in Konduga LGA of Borno State.
In actual Geographical terms, the crash location is approximately 30Kms outside Maiduguri, the Borno State capital in the North East of Nigeria.
Sources said that “The fighter jet was seen flying around Goni Kurmiri and Njimia villages after attacking terrorist locations at the Sambisa axis.”
However, there is no information yet about what became of the pilot and the co-pilot, that is, whether they were taken prisoners of war or parachuted into safety.
The plane was reported to have lost contact with the radar on Wednesday evening, according to Air Force spokesman, Commodore Edward Gabkwet.
He said the plane lost contact with radar in Borno State, while on an interdiction mission in support of ground troops.
“The mission was part of the ongoing counterinsurgency operations in the North East.
“The loss of radar contact occurred at about 5:08 p.m. on 31 March 2021. Earlier Friday, the Air Force had said that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Alpha Jet aircraft (NAF475) “that went off the radar with 2 crew members on board on 31 March 2021 might have crashed.”
It said, “The cause of the crash as well as the whereabouts of the 2 pilots remain unknown,” it said in a statement signed by Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet.
“The pilots are Flight Lieutenant John Abolarinwa and Flight Lieutenant Ebiakpo Chapele. Extensive search and rescue efforts are still ongoing by NAF surveillance aircraft as well as NAF Special Forces and Nigerian Army troops on the ground.”
Vanguard News Nigeria
Denmark Deploys Warship To Fight Pirates In Gulf of Guinea
The Danish government has authorised the deployment of a warship far away into West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea to fight pirates.
According to a statement issued by the Danish government, the vessel will combat piracy by providing escorts to civilian shipping and carrying out rescue operations following attacks, it said.
This ship will arrive in the gulf of Guinea international waters in November for an initial period of five months, according to a statement published Tuesday. The ship is equipped with a helicopter to patrol international waters.
“If we are to get serious about managing security in the Gulf of Guinea, an international military presence is necessary,” Danish Defense Minister Trine Bramsen said in Tuesday’s statement. “We are working for more countries to assume a responsibility.”
World’s biggest shipping company Maersk based in Copenhagen is responsible for more than a third of maritime trade in the gulf.
Details indicate that as many as 40 Danish-operated vessels sail through the Gulf of Guinea daily.
The decision to deploy this warship follows a call by A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S and shipping industry groups for a more assertive international response to kidnappings that occur in the region.
The waters in the Gulf of Guinea are the most dangerous for seafarers worldwide, accounting for almost all maritime abductions in recent years.
Last year, 95% of the 135 seafarers seized worldwide were kidnapped in the gulf, a vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean stretching from Senegal to Angola, in 22 separate incidents, according to the International Maritime Bureau. Hostages are usually taken to Nigeria, where ransoms are negotiated.
ECOWAS Distributes Second Consignment of Covid-19 Medical Supplies
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) through the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) has started the distribution of its second consigment of Covid-19 medical supplies as part of regional response to the pandemic to Member States starting with the Nigerian government.
The consignment consist of PPEs, Covid-19 test kits, consumables and other medical equipments. These items were donated by UNDP, GIZ and the European Union (EU).
Speaking at the handover ceremony in Abuja, the Director-General of WAHO, Prof. Stanley Okolo, said the donation was part of the organisation’s mandate to support ECOWAS States in their national health response.
Mr Okolo noted that the medical supplies worth over U$18 million will be distributed to 15 West Africa countries including Nigeria.
He said the supplies will support countries in the fight against the Covid-19 virus even as Nigeria has received the first batch of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines.
“The provision of critical medical supplies to aid the fight against the pandemic is one of the contributions we make towards achieving the regional health agenda at WAHO” he said.
“We at WAHO have set up ourselves to support both strategically and operationally. Vaccines are now beginning to arrive, and that in itself is a very good thing”.
He noted that WAHO has over half a million diagnostic test kits to be distributed. Some of the distributed supplies include Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), oxygen tube, extension, PCR tubes, and Oxygen concentrator flow splitter.
Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, President of the ECOWAS Commission, represented by the ECOWAS Commissioner for Finance, Halima Ahmed under-scored the importance of the medical supplies to the fight against the pandemic.
She therefore stressed the urgent need to strengthen regional and national capacities to respond to the health emergencies such as COVID-19 pandemic.
Ahmed commended the effort of the Ni-gerian government for the protection of all Nigerians through evidence-based prevention and integrated disease surveillance.
European Union, Head of Cooperation European Union (EU) Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mrs. Cécile Tassin-Pelzer said, “As part of a rolling programme of procurement to support the on-going response to Covid-19 and strengthen the health systems in the region, the consignments handed over today contain critical personal protective equipment (PPE) consisting of aprons, gloves and boots which will be used by the health care workers involved in response activities and patient care”.
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