On 7 March 2021, a series of explosions were recorded at the armory of the Nkuantoma gendarmerie and military barracks in Bata, the economic capital of Equatorial Guinea.
According to official records, 107 people lost their lives due to the explosions, which also caused extensive damage to residential areas and in the military compound. More than 700 people were wounded, including women and children in the army barracks as well as in the residential areas near the military compound.
According to UNITAR’s Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNOSAT) satellite imagery and rapid assessments conducted, it is estimated that around 600 structures were damaged within an initial radius of approximately 800m, of which about 238 structures have been destroyed.
The main and newly constructed hospital also suffered significant damages, including the only COVID test laboratory in Bata.
Initial assessments by the National Red Cross estimated that some 3,900 people were directly affected, and significant damages were caused on the infrastructure (including health, water and sanitation, and schools), as well as on essential infrastructure for food supply and livelihoods. The recently concluded Multisectorial Initial Rapid Assessment (MIRA) suggest that physical damage from these explosions could have a direct impact on approximately 19,000 people.
With the support of the Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) experts from the USA, Israel, Qatar, Cameroon, and France, the Government of Equatorial Guinea continues to demine and clean up the unexploded ordnance (UXO) from the affected areas. Local and international humanitarian actors are supporting thousands of affected people to meet their basic needs, largely drawing on existing capacities and supplies. A United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team has been mobilized to support response efforts on intersectoral coordination, assessment, and information management.
Consequently, a comprehensive and effective response to this emergency will require three phases of activity. The first phase will prioritize life-saving responses and protection of the most vulnerable people.
The second phase will deliver recovery and reconstruction interventions to restore public infrastructure, rehabilitate private accommodations and establish a long-term economic recovery plan. A third phase of interventions is not included in this immediate response and recovery plan. The Government of Equatorial Guinea is planning the reconstruction of the military base and the improvement of the design of the ammunition storage infrastructures in the military bases across the country, preferably through underground construction, to ensure public safety and to avoid future accidents.