By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Explosions that started at a munitions depot in Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo, have killed at least 206 people, with officials warning the death toll could rise due to many collapsed buildings in the area.
Didier Boutsindi of the president’s office said many people were trapped inside a church that collapsed in the northern part of Brazzaville and that other buildings and houses were similarly leveled.
The munitions depot was located near the president’s private residence, but the president was not there when the March 4 explosions happened.
Hundreds of people are reported injured, including many Chinese who were working for a Chinese construction company there. China’s official Xinhua news agency said some 140 Chinese workers were in the area.
The blasts were felt across the Congo River in Kinshasa, the capital of the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.
Officials in Brazzaville urged calm, saying the blasts were an accident and did not mean there was a coup d’etat or a mutiny under way.