Blast at Congo arms depot kills hundreds

Sun Mar 4, 2012 12:31pm EST
 

By Christian Tsoumou and Jonny Hogg

BRAZZAVILLE/KINSHASA (Reuters) - Around 200 people were killed on Sunday when an arms dump exploded in Brazzaville, ripping apart a nearby neighborhood in the Congo Republic's capital, medical and local authorities said.

Around 200 more were injured by the blasts which rocked the riverside capital around 8 a.m. (0700 GMT), flattening houses near the scene and sending a plume of smoke high above the city.

"I saw someone being carried to hospital with their intestines hanging out. They had been hit by a shell," one witness told Reuters as he was leaving the blast zone.

A nearby church, packed with worshippers, collapsed, said one witness.

Corpses, many burned or missing body parts, were carried into the main city hospital morgue, said a Reuters reporter outside the building. Officials there said they had already counted 136 bodies by mid afternoon.

Many more corpses littered the scene, said one soldier. Weeping relatives of the dead gathered outside the hospital to mourn while others came to look for family members who had scattered in the chaos.

An adviser in the president's office, Betu Bangana, told Reuters: "According to sources at the central hospital we're talking of around 200 dead and many injured."

"Some people are still (trapped) in their houses... They're saying the entire neighborhood of Mpila has been destroyed."   Continued...

 
A plume of smoke rises from across the river in neighbouring Republic of Congo's capital Brazzaville, as seen above the skyline of Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa March 4, 2012. REUTERS/Jonny Hogg