Crews try to keep fire from sec­ond arms de­pot; death toll at 213

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY LOUIS OKAMBA ANDMICHELLE

BRAZ­ZAV­ILLE, REPUB­LIC OF CONGO | In­ter­na­tional res­cuers fought Mon­day to pre­vent a fire from reach­ing a sec­ond arms de­pot in the cap­i­tal of the Repub­lic of Congo, a day af­ter a blaze set off a se­ries of ex­plo­sions so vi­o­lent they flat­tened build­ings, killing hun­dreds and trap­ping count­less oth­ers.

Small det­o­na­tions con­tin­ued to shake Braz­zav­ille, though the blasts were not nearly as loud as those that con­vulsed the city on Sun­day, split­ting beams, buck­ling nu­mer­ous build­ings in­clud­ing two churches and a hospi­tal, and caus­ing win­dows to shat­ter in a 3-mile ra­dius.

“For the time be­ing, there are Rus­sian, French and Con­golese ex­perts in the field who are try­ing to put out the fires,” said Del­phin Kibakidi, the spokesman of the lo­cal chap­ter of the Red Cross. Their goal is to pre­vent the fires from reach­ing a sec­ond de­pot of even heav­ier weapons.

On­go­ing ex­plo­sions and fires ham­pered at­tempts to res­cue hun­dreds be­lieved to be trapped un­der de­bris.

A large crowd had gath­ered out­side the mu­nic­i­pal morgue, which along with a nearby hospi­tal had reg­is­tered 206 deaths hours af­ter the first blast Sun­day.

In a two-hour stretch on Mon­day, an­other seven bod­ies were brought to the morgue, bring­ing the death toll to at least 213.

That num­ber is ex­pected to rise as res­cuers be­gin clear­ing the de­bris, in­clud­ing from St. Louis Catholic Church, where dozens of wor­ship­pers were at­tend­ing Sun­day Mass when the build­ing buck­led un­der the force of the blast.

Mis­sion chief Jan Di­plo of Doc­tors With­out Borders said he had counted 936 in­jured peo­ple be­ing treated at the three main hos­pi­tals. Oth­ers have gone to pri­vate hos­pi­tals, while dozens more wounded peo­ple were still ar­riv­ing on Mon­day, he said.

“Most of the in­juries we’re see­ing are trau­matic in­juries from peo­ple who have had houses col­lapse on them,” Mr. Di­plo said.

A team of un­ex­ploded ord­nance ex­perts from the Mine Ad­vi­sory Group, funded by the Euro­pean Union, said it was work­ing with the coun­try to help clear the area of dan­ger.

“More lives are thought to be in dan­ger from the threat of un­ex­ploded ord­nance kicked out by the blast. Early re­ports in­di­cate that the in­ci­dent has seen po­ten­tially un­sta­ble pro­jec­tiles scat­tered around ur­ban ar­eas, al­ready caus­ing a num­ber of ex­plo­sions and sub­se­quent fa­tal­i­ties,” a state­ment from the group said.

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