OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — A series of explosions at a military barracks in Equatorial Guinea killed at least 20 people and wounded more than 600 others on Sunday, authorities said.
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema said the 4 p.m. explosion was due to the “negligent handling of dynamite” in the military barracks located in the neighborhood of Mondong Nkuantoma in Bata.
“The impact of the explosion caused damage in almost all the houses and buildings in Bata,” the president said in a statement, which was in Spanish.
The defense ministry released a statement late Sunday saying that a fire at a weapons depot in the barracks caused the explosion of high-caliber ammunition. It said the provisional toll was 20 dead and 600 injured, adding that the cause of the explosions will be fully investigated.
The country’s president said the fire may have been due residents burning the fields surrounding the barracks.
State television showed a huge plume of smoke rising above the explosion site as crowds fled, with many people crying out “we don’t know what happened, but it is all destroyed.”
Images on local media seen by The Associated Press showed people screaming and crying running through the streets amid debris and smoke. Roofs of houses were ripped off, and wounded people were being carried into a hospital.
Equatorial Guinea, an African country of 1.3 million people located south of Cameroon, was a colony of Spain until it gained its independence in 1968. Bata has roughly 175,000 inhabitants.