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Chad ammo depot blaze kills nine, wounds dozens

2024-06-20  Correspondent

Chad ammo depot blaze kills nine, wounds dozens

N’DJAMENA - A fire that tore through a huge military ammunition depot in Chad’s capital N’Djamena killed at least nine people and wounded dozens more, officials said yesterday, warning the toll could rise.  The blaze, which started late on Tuesday, sent powerful blasts into the night sky, and the exploding ordnance shook buildings miles away.
Chad’s Health Minister Abdelmadjid Abderahim told journalists that the toll was in danger of rising as many of the 46 wounded were in an “extremely serious” condition.

A visit to the scene yesterday revealed unexploded shells and other munitions scattered on the ground, and the burnt-out wreckage of what looked like military vehicles.
Government spokesman Abderaman Koulamallah said the cause was not “criminal,” but an investigation was underway.
According to initial indications, several people died in the ammunition storeroom, he said. “There are fewer deaths and less damage than we foresaw. We were expecting dozens and dozens of deaths,” Koulamallah, who is also foreign minister, told AFP by telephone. 

“There aren’t many civilians who lost their lives.”
The sky burst into flames above the Goudji area -- where the army’s largest depot of ammunition is located -- for several hours before tapering off and finally ceasing after midnight.

The explosions shook buildings as far as seven kilometres away, and the flames were visible from far off.
“The roof of our house was blown off by one of the explosions,” said resident Kadidja Dakou, who lives in the Amsinene area near Goudji.

The 36-year-old and her three children took refuge in the street alongside their neighbours for fear their houses would collapse, she told AFP by phone.
“The soldiers had time to evacuate the vehicles, heavy weapons, etc. and were able themselves to take shelter,” Koulamallah said.

Regional Planning Minister Mahamat Assileck Halata told reporters at the scene that the fire was “contained,” and the situation was under control.
Nearby, gutted buildings could be seen, and at least one huge crater was visible in the grounds of the military camp. 

- Nampa/AFP

2024-06-20  Correspondent

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