REPUBLIC OF CONGO: More lives at risk as blast leaves Brazzaville scattered with unexploded ordnance
MAG is helping Congolese authorities deal with the deadly fall out after Sunday’s tragic explosion has left homes and streets littered with deadly items.
MAG teams have been on the ground in the wake of the huge arms depot blast – the most deadly of its kind in the past year.
“We’re helping to put into action an emergency response plan following a request for assistance by the Forces Armées Congoleses,” said Lionel Cattaneo, MAG’s technical expert in Brazzaville.
On the threat of explosions at other armouries close by, Lionel said: “It’s now thought that any armouries in the vicinity were destroyed in the blast. We’re mapping the ammunition depots that exploded, so we can get a better idea of the scale of the problem.”"Although most fires are under control, it is not expected that they will be fully extinguished until later today, perhaps even tomorrow [Wednesday] morning.”
Efforts are now turning to the hundreds of unexploded and unstable munitions and weapons kicked out across the city by the blast.
Lionel said: “Our main focus is now on preventing further loss of life caused by unexploded ordnance [UXO], which we believe includes rockets and mortars.
“In situations like this, when UXO is scattered around homes and streets, a population who are wholly unaware of the risks is a real issue. These items are indiscriminate in choosing their victims. If tampered with, they can kill. Children, who are naturally inquisitive, are usually most at risk.
“Our Community Liaison staff are already in the community providing safety messages to affected areas. A hotline to help report and warn people of the dangers has already been so swamped with calls that we’ve had to set up a further two." Added Lionel: “In these situations, speed really is of the essence if we want to prevent further needless deaths.”MAG technicians and the army are due to carry out an assessment of the area tomorrow to enable critical clearance operations to get under way.
Nick Roseveare, MAG Chief Executive, said: “The response to this tragedy is an example of how organisations like MAG, affected states and the international community can provide rapid assistance after an explosion.
"But cooperation on Physical Security and Stockpile Management operations can also help to avoid these incidents.
“MAG currently has teams in Somalia, Libya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and South Sudan that are working with governments to safeguard armouries and taking measures to avert exactly this kind of tragedy.”
|Photos by MAG ROC|
|March 6 2012|