At least eight people were killed and 84 injured after a blast at an oil terminal in Guinea’s capital, Conakry, early on Monday, a senior police officer said. The explosion at the West African nation’s leading oil terminal rocked the Kaloum administrative district in downtown Conakry, blowing out the windows of several nearby homes and forcing hundreds to flee. It sent a massive plume of black smoke into the sky.
The blaze was being contained, the police official added. A fire department spokesman said no one had been trapped inside the compound. The area surrounding the compound is heavily populated by workers at the port and a large military base, including a prison where prisoners escaped last month. The blasts caused panic among residents, who fled on foot with whatever they could carry.
No further details were available about the victims. Dozens of wounded have been brought to two of the city’s leading hospitals, a doctor and a resident told AFP. The explosion was so powerful that it damaged a water tower near the site, which houses the country’s most extensive fuel depot. It is feared that the blast will affect the distribution of gasoline and diesel throughout the nation, which has no refinery and relies on imports for its energy needs.
A former French colony, Guinea is rich in natural resources such as bauxite and iron ore. It is also a significant guinea nut, cocoa beans, and coffee exporter. The nation forms a crescent shape and borders Guinea-Bissau to the northwest, Senegal to the north, Mali to the northeast, Ivory Coast to the east, and Sierra Leone to the southwest.
The West African nation is divided into eight administrative regions subdivided into 33 prefectures. The capital, Conakry, has a population of 1,675,069 and is the country’s administrative and commercial hub.
Guineas economy largely depends on the service sector, which employs about three-quarters of the labor force. The government is attempting to reduce the state’s role in the economy by privatizing some public enterprises and encouraging foreign investment.