Congo blast: Toll rises to 200

Brazzaville, March 5 | The toll in Sunday’s arms depot blast here in the capital of the Republic of Congo has risen to 200, the country’s presidential office said.

Citing hospital sources, an official from the presidency told Xinhua that around 200 people have been killed.

Many buildings in the city were destroyed, which forced thousands of people to flee, causing panic.

According to BBC, Defence Minister Charles Zacharie Bowao said the explosions were caused by a fire in an arms depot in the Regiment Blinde base in the riverside area of Mpila.

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Bowao appeared on national TV and asked people to stay calm.

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“The explosions that you have heard don’t mean there is a war or a coup d’etat. Nor does it mean there was a mutiny. It is an incident caused by a fire at the munitions depot,” he was quoted as saying.

Streets in the capital were littered with twisted sheets of metal and debris. An official said many people were trapped in the wreckage of a collapsed church.

Five Chinese workers died in the blast, which occurred around 8 a.m. Sunday, China’s foreign ministry said early Monday.

According to the ministry’s Department of Consular Affairs, the blast affected a housing project under construction by the Beijing Construction Engineering Group.

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