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150 dead in Congo munitions depot blasts

world Updated: Mar 05, 2012 07:39 IST

AFP
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At least 150 people were killed in a series of explosions at a munitions depot in the Congolose capital of Brazzaville earlier on Sunday, a European diplomat said.

"We count at least 150 dead in the military hospitals and around 1,500 injured, some of them seriously," the diplomat said when contacted by telephone from Paris, after explosions rocked the Mpila military barracks near the capital.

Correspondents in Brazzaville had earlier reported seeing four bodies, including that of a young girl, in a clinic near the barracks, while the Chinese Xinhua news agency said three Chinese workers were killed and dozens injured in the blasts.

A number of wounded, many wearing military uniforms, were also seen receiving first aid in the streets.

The blasts, which even blew out windows across the Congo River in Kinshasa, were set off by a blaze in two munition depots in the Mpila armoured brigade barracks, in the east of Brazzaville, according to soldiers who refused to be named.

A diplomat said firefighters were finding it hard to fight the blaze owing to ongoing blasts.