Guinea: at least 14 dead and 190 injured after fire at an oil depot in Conakry

At least 14 people were killed and 190 injured in a fire that hit the center of Conakry, the capital of Guinea, on Monday (December 18) after an explosion at the country's main fuel depot left the city on fire

Guinea: at least 14 dead and 190 injured after fire at an oil depot in Conakry

At least 14 people were killed and 190 injured in a fire that hit the center of Conakry, the capital of Guinea, on Monday (December 18) after an explosion at the country's main fuel depot left the city on fire. shutdown and caused significant material damage.

The disaster occurred during the night from Sunday to Monday, around midnight (local time and GMT) in the main hydrocarbon depot of the Guinean Petroleum Company (public) in Kaloum, the administrative and business district of Conakry.

The number of deaths increased from 13 to 14 people, of Guinean and foreign nationalities. 190 injured people were treated by emergency services and in hospitals in Conakry, 113 of whom then returned to their families, the government assured in a press release Monday evening on national television.

The blast from the explosion caused significant material damage which is currently being assessed by a commission of inquiry, the press release continued. Firefighters took turns throughout the night and most of the day to put out the flames. The fire was brought under control in the afternoon, according to the government.

“Solidarity and prayer”

“I call on the people of Guinea to solidarity and prayer for the nation in these moments of difficult trial,” declared junta leader Mamadi Doumbouya, in power since September 2021, in a text published late in the morning on his Facebook page. The government announced the closure of schools and asked public and private sector workers to stay at home in greater Conakry, including the capital and its surrounding areas. The port area was cordoned off by security forces, who erected filter barriers over several kilometers. A strong smell of burning fuel emanated from the damaged area.

A crisis unit coordinated by the Minister of Security, Bachir Diallo, was set up and a health emergency plan was activated for the care of the injured, said the Ministry of Information. An emergency call number has also been put into service. Mr. Diallo announced the imminent arrival of foreign rescuers, particularly from Senegal and Mali. The European Union and the United States expressed their solidarity.

Gas stations are temporarily closed throughout the national territory to avoid speculation and an evacuation point for the local population has been established at the People's Palace, seat of Parliament, the government said.

“It was a deafening noise that woke us up, we were already asleep. We who live near the Niger market, the windows of our home and those of our neighbors were broken. We managed to get away from the place,” a shocked resident of Kaloum told AFP.

Ghost town

“We heard a loud explosion which threw us to the ground without understanding anything of what was happening,” Marietou Camara also told AFP. “We contented ourselves with prayers, hoping for God’s favor. Others did not try to understand, preferring to head to the suburbs,” she continued.

The port district, usually crowded, looked like a ghost town on Monday. Dozens of people hastily left the city center during the night, the others holed up in their homes.

Guinea has been led since September 2021 by a junta whose leader is Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya. He overthrew President Alpha Condé, who in 2010 became Guinea's first democratically elected president after decades of authoritarian or dictatorial regimes.

After the putsch, Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya was inaugurated president and under international pressure committed to handing over power to elected civilians within two years from January 2023. He promised to rebuild a state undermined by divisions and by corruption deemed endemic.