Brazzaville (Agenzia Fides) - The Nunciature of Brazzaville reported to Fides the following statement which we publish in full.
The city of Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of Congo, was awakened at dawn yesterday, due to five powerful explosions that made one think of the beginning of a new war. Throughout the morning, several explosions followed caused by the fire of the national arsenal of the army, located in the populous district of Mpila, on the outskirts of Brazzaville. The outbreak of missiles, bombs and ammunition almost razed the buildings of the neighborhood to the ground, causing more than two hundred deaths among military and civilian and over two thousand wounded. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny, who work at the university hospital of the Capital confirm the massacre and estimate that the number of casualties and victims is likely to increase. Even the diocesan community was rocked by the news: There is, in fact, the collapse of the church of Saint Louis des Francais, which occured during the Eucharistic celebration. The Apostolic Nunciature in Brazzaville, also damaged by the explosions, but no harm to people was reported, is working to develop an estimate of the faithful and religious wounded or dead. The shock wave of powerful explosions caused damage throughout the city and even reached Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, about 10 km from the site of the accident. The cause of the accident does not appear to be political (coup or terrorist attack), but due to human error, which triggered a chain reaction. The Apostolic Nunciature is convened by the state Authorities to take part in the action plan to address the humanitarian crisis. The Catholic Church, therefore, is at the forefront to assist the wounded and make available its facilities to provide shelter, food and other assistance to those affected by the disaster. Currently, more than two thousand people are housed in facilities provided by the Catholic Church, such as the Place Mariale, adjacent to the Cathedral, the parishes of Notre-Dame du Rosaire and Saint Pierre Claver in the populous district of Bacongo, and then the community of Saint Charles Lwanga and the Ugandan Martyrs. The Caritas diocesan and many clinics of the religious Orders, scattered in various neighborhoods of the Capital, are doing a commendable job in treating and assisting the hundreds of injured who cannot be hospitalized in state hospitals, already at the verge of collapse. (Agenzia Fides 05/03/2012)