AFRICA/GUINEA - The number of victims following the explosion in Conakry is increasing

Wednesday, 20 December 2023 fires   pope francis  

Conakry (Agenzia Fides) - The number of victims from the explosion following a fire in the Conakry fuel depot has increased. With the death of four hospitalized people, the death toll has increased from 14 to 18, according to Guinean authorities. Of the 212 people hospitalized, 127 have been discharged, 85 remain hospitalized, 4 of whom in critical condition in intensive care. The fire caused significant damage and affected buildings in a radius of over a kilometre, including the building that hosted the trial for the massacre of 28 September 2009 (see Fides, 29/9/2009), when the military forces violently repressed a popular protest, causing at least 157 deaths (see Fides, 1/10/2009).
In the meantime, Church sources report to Fides that the disasters caused by the explosion of the fuel depot in the Kaloum district were not limited to the destruction of the church of St. Joseph (see Fides, 19/12/2023). Numerous public buildings were destroyed, damaged or rendered unusable.
"The destruction or significant damage of several pastoral offices of the archdiocese has been reported," local churchl sources tell Fides. "In addition to offices, numerous private homes have suffered considerable damage or have been completely destroyed, leaving their residents homeless." Authorities have reportedly provided assistance to 738 families affected by the tragedy. "The most important fuel depot in all of Guinea was initially built in a relatively isolated area, but with the expansion of the city, the neighborhood where it is located has become a very important and busy central area," the sources say. The population had been asking the company that manages it for some time to move the depot.”
Indeed, Kaloum has become the commercial and business district of the Guinean capital. The Attorney General has opened a judicial investigation for "arson" to find out the causes of the incident and possible responsibilities. There is no information available on the origin of the fire. During the general Audience today, December 20, Pope Francis, greeting the French-speaking pilgrims, said: "After the serious explosion in Conakry that has caused numerous victims, I express my closeness to the families of the deceased and injured. May God sustain them and give them hope". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 20/12/2023)