Welcome to Africanews

Please select your experience

Watch Live



Guinea: death toll from Conakry fire rises to 23 as fuel shortages cause tension

Guinea: death toll from Conakry fire rises to 23 as fuel shortages cause tension
In this image taken from a video, residents watch a plume of smoke from a burning oil depot   -  
Copyright © africanews
AP/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved.


The death toll from the explosion and fire at Guinea's main fuel depot rose to 23 on Thursday, according to the government, while in Conakry clashes broke out between security forces and groups of young people protesting against the lack of petrol at service stations.

On Sunday night, the blast and subsequent fire in the port area of Kaloum, Conakry's administrative and business district, caused extensive material damage and brought the economy to a standstill.

The fire caused "23 deaths" and 241 injuries, the government announced in a statement broadcast on state television on Thursday evening.

The previous toll published on Tuesday had been 18 dead and more than 212 injured in the incident.

Of the 241 injured, 167 have returned to their homes and 74 are still in hospital, the government said in the statement.

"A large number of people have been reported missing. Investigations are underway" to clarify the situation, it added.

The head of Guinea's ruling military, Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya, announced on Wednesday evening a three-day national mourning period starting on Thursday in tribute to the victims.

The explosion and fire have left hundreds of households homeless, caused extensive material damage and continue to paralyse the country's economy.

The government has announced the resumption of diesel supplies, but petrol distribution has remained cut off since the incident and restrictions on tankers are still in place.

- tensions linked to the petrol shortage -

The shortage of petrol led to clashes between the security forces and groups of young people demanding fuel at service stations in Conakry on Thursday.The clashes sporadically pitted mobile, stone-throwing youths against massively deployed defence forces on Thursday afternoon, who retaliated by firing tear gas, an AFP journalist observed.

Hundreds of young people, most of them wearing balaclavas or masks, barricaded the road leading from the outskirts of Conakry to the centre of the capital, particularly in the neighbourhoods of Sonfonia, Wanindara, Kagbelen, Koloma and Hamdallaye.

They set up barricades, overturned bins and burnt tyres.In Guinea, many young people live off motorbike taxi fares.

They are demanding the reopening of service stations for all types of fuel."We can't sell diesel and go without petrol. Most Guineans only use petrol," chanted the protesters."We want to work so that we can eat and feed our families, just like the authorities.

We don't have anywhere to get money. We just want the government to fulfil its obligations. If they don't, they should get out", one of them told AFP.

Other demonstrations demanding petrol took place in the morning.

NGOs have also expressed alarm at the censorship of certain private media in Guinea and restrictions on access to social networks during this period of crisis.

In a press release, the Guinean Organisation for the Defence of Human and Citizens' Rights (OGDH) called on the authorities to restore access to social networks and the private media "in view of the role they play in keeping people informed throughout the country" and to promote "a rapid end to the crisis".

Since the beginning of the year, access to the internet and/or social networks has been restricted on several occasions, online news sites have been inaccessible, and radio stations have been rendered inaudible and withdrawn from certain broadcasting platforms.

In December, several distributors, including Canal+, were ordered by the Haute Autorité de la Communication (HAC) to suspend the broadcasting of private TV channels for "national security reasons".

View more