Guinea in shock after the explosion of an oil depot in the heart of the capital

After the confusion and shock, the Guinean authorities are trying to establish the death toll from the spectacular fire that occurred on the night of Sunday December 17 to Monday December 18

Guinea in shock after the explosion of an oil depot in the heart of the capital

After the confusion and shock, the Guinean authorities are trying to establish the death toll from the spectacular fire that occurred on the night of Sunday December 17 to Monday December 18. Conakry's two main hospitals, the Ignace Deen University Hospital and Donka Hospital, are overwhelmed by patients suffering from "cases of burns, cuts, injuries, poisonings", indicates Doctor Mamadouba Sylla, surgeon at the Conakry hospital. Donka. “The residents of the center of Conakry were very afraid, the injured arrived by the dozens at the morgue of the Ignace Deen hospital,” says Alpha Ibrahima Baldé, journalist for FIM FM radio, who spent part of the day Monday in front of the capital's hospital.

At least thirteen people were killed and around a hundred seriously injured, according to the latest count from the Minister of Health, Monday evening, in the fire which affected the country's main fuel depot, located on the peninsula of Kaloum. “The days that follow will be very complicated for transport and daily life. It’s the only hydrocarbon depot in the country,” worries Elhadj Gassim Sylla, the mayor of Kaloum who is already seeing a sharp increase in the price of a liter of oil on the black market.

For residents evacuated to the esplanade of the Palais du Peuple and the Grand Faisal Mosque of Conakry, solidarity channels were created, relayed via WhatsApp and X. A blood donation campaign was also organized on the esplanade of the mosque. “The government is doing its best on its side, but we are waiting for help and the needs are immense for those who have lost everything,” alarms the mayor of Kaloum.

Health emergency plan

The explosion of the hydrocarbon depot of the National Petroleum Company of Guinea (SNP), a public company located in the very center of the administrative and business district, surprised residents in their sleep. An immense column of flames and smoke dominated the capital for a good part of the day, and it was only early in the afternoon that emergency services managed to reduce it. The numerous videos and images circulating on social networks show building facades ravaged by the blast of the explosion and collapsed houses.

“I would like to present my saddened condolences to the families of the victims as well as to the people of Guinea, I wish a speedy recovery to the injured who are immediately and fully taken care of by the State,” indicated the head of the junta, Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya, in power since September 2021, in a press release on his Facebook page. While awaiting investigations carried out by the government to find out the exact causes of the fire, the Head of State launched an appeal for solidarity to his compatriots.

A crisis unit was set up by the executive and a “health emergency plan in greater Conakry” was activated for the care of the injured, said the government spokesperson. The European Union and the United States expressed their solidarity.

Critics are already starting to be heard, even though the dangerousness of this depot, in the heart of the capital, was known. According to the mayor of Kaloum, the transitional government would have considered continuing the project to relocate the hydrocarbon depot, initiated in January 2021 under the presidency of Alpha Condé, to large capacity reservoirs in Moribaya, around 80 kilometers from Conakry. This site has the advantage of being close to a dry port and in a less dense area than the capital.