Hundreds are injured and more than a dozen dead after a series of large explosions rocked the city of Bata in Equatorial Guinea on Sunday.
At least 20 people have been killed and some 600 injured in the blasts, the Ministry of Education said, citing hospital reports.
'Many' more are feared dead or trapped under rubble, the ministry said in a series of tweets on Sunday which included an appeal for blood donations and for voluntary health workers to go to the Bata Regional Hospital.
There has been four bombs detonated in Bata, Equatorial Guinea since 2pm today 7/03/2021 NOBODY IS TALKING ABOUT IT!! pic.twitter.com/LYilJtPoFw— i s a b e l l a 🐉 (@isabell_afriend) March 7, 2021
The cause of the blasts is unknown but the health ministry said the explosions had happened at a military base in the city's Mondong Nkuantoma de Bata neighbourhood.
Deutsche Welle, citing local witnesses, reported that there were four blasts, which began at 1pm local time.
Local television showed groups of people pulling bodies from under piles of rubble. Some of the bodies were carried away wrapped in bed sheets.
Hospitals in the central African nation are reportedly overwhelmed, with local media footage showing pick-up trucks filled with survivors, many of whom were children, drive up to the front of a local hospital where some victims were seen lying on the floor.
In the blast area, iron roofs were ripped off half-destroyed houses and lay twisted amid the rubble, Reuters news agency reported. Only a wall or two remained of most residences. People ran in all directions, many of them screaming.
A column of smoke reached into the sky and around its base firefighters sought to calm the blaze.
PRAY FOR BATA (EQUATORIAL GUINEA) there’s has been for explosions in the economic capital city of Bata, Equatorial Guinea. No source, the internet and network is shut down 🙏🏾🙏🏾🇬🇶🇬🇶🇬🇶🇬🇶🇬🇶 pic.twitter.com/Bivz4bWG6x— Andrea M Nguema M (@NguemaAndrea) March 7, 2021
Unverified videos shared on Twitter and claiming to have been filmed from near the blast site showed plumes of smoke rising into the sky and debris from buildings littering the roadside.
In one clip, people could be heard screaming as the camera panned between roofless buildings.
A local resident told Spanish news agency EFE that there were soldiers on the street and telephone lines appeared to be down.
Local media reported that the vice president of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue had arrived at the scene of the explosion.
'Pain has hit Equatorial Guinea again right in the middle of its fight against the coronavirus pandemic with explosions this Sunday in the Rapid Intervention Barracks in Nkoantoma, in city of Bata. From here, I express my sincere grief for the victims,' the vice president tweeted.
'Following developments in Equatorial Guinea with concern after the explosions in the city of Bata,' said Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya on Twitter.
The Spanish Embassy in Malabo encouraged its nationals to stay in their homes.
The blast comes as Equatorial Guinea, an oil producer, is suffering a double economic shock linked to the coronavirus pandemic and a drop in the price of crude, which provides around three-quarters of state revenue.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.