Guinea mourns after tragic explosion and fire in Conakry

Nedu Okorie 2023-12-21 0

In the aftermath of a tragic explosion and deadly fire at the main fuel depot in Conakry, Guinea, Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, the leader of the military in power, declared a three-day national mourning period on Wednesday. The incident, occurring from Sunday night to Monday, left the capital’s downtown area paralyzed.

“Faced with this painful ordeal, I declare a three-day national mourning starting from Thursday,” announced Colonel Doumbouya in a televised address on Guinean public television. The mourning is in honor of the 18 lives lost and over 200 individuals injured in the disaster. Colonel Doumbouya, who seized power in September 2021, replacing President Alpha Cond√©, emphasized the focus on the well-being of the masses.

The explosion had a severe impact on the Kaloum commune, the central hub of business in Conakry, causing significant material damage and halting economic activities. Despite the announcement of a “minimal” reopening of offices more than two days after the explosion and fire at Guinea’s main fuel depot, downtown Conakry remained paralyzed on Wednesday.

The aftermath of the incident was evident at Galaxie Communication, a communication and consulting company, where the devastation was palpable. Mamadou Dian Diallo, the CEO, expressed disbelief, contemplating the potential devastation had the explosion occurred during a regular working day.

Nearby, the seven-story building housing the Guinean Advertising Office resembled a gutted skeleton, with blown-out windows. Employees worked to clean offices littered with shards of glass and pieces of wood.

In the Coronthie neighborhood, the epicenter of the explosion, even the central prison of Conakry, with its more than ten-meter-high wall, was not spared from the violence of the blast. Charles Alphonse Wright, the Minister of Justice, reported 33 injuries, including four severe cases, during his visit to the site on Tuesday.

A judicial investigation into alleged “willful arson” has been initiated by the Attorney General to determine the causes of the disaster and establish accountability. As of now, no information is available regarding the origin of the fire.

International reactions and expressions of solidarity continued to pour in on Wednesday. Pope Francis conveyed his closeness to the families of the deceased and the injured during his weekly general audience at the Vatican, stating, “May God support and keep them in hope.”

Moussa Faki Mahamat, the President of the African Union Commission, expressed his sincere condolences and deep compassion to the families of the explosion victims. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) called on its member countries and the international community to provide support to Guinea during these challenging times.

Out of the 212 individuals admitted to healthcare facilities, 127 have returned home, while 85 remain hospitalized, including four in intensive care, as of Tuesday night, according to the government. The government also announced the resumption of diesel supply in the country, although tanker restrictions are still in place.

On Wednesday morning, taxi drivers and motorcycle riders demanded fuel at several locations, leading most fuel stations to remain closed for fear of attacks. This resulted in a significant increase in gasoline prices on the black market.