Equatorial Guinea Military Camp Blasts Toll Rises To 105

This video grab obtained by AFPTV from TVGE on March 7, 2021 shows of smoke rising above buildings in Bata, Equatorial Guinea. TVGE / AFP

 

The death toll from four explosions that rocked a military camp in Equatorial Guinea and surrounding areas rose to 105 with the discovery of seven more corpses, state television said Tuesday.

A total of 615 people were injured in Sunday’s accidental blasts at the Nkoa Ntoma camp in the country’s economic hub Bata, which devastated buildings at the compound and houses in surrounding districts.

President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who has ruled the oil-rich country with an iron fist for 42 years, once again blamed the military for “negligence” in stocking ammunition so close to residential areas.

READ ALSO: Edo Govt Trains Frontline Workers, Calls For E-Registration Ahead Of Vaccination

He has previously spoken of stubble-burning by local farmers setting off the tragedy.

State television channel TVGE said seven more bodies were found on Tuesday, buried under rubble.

On Monday, it said more than 60 survivors had been found trapped under debris, including two children aged three and four.

TVGE has shown images akin to a war zone, with rescue workers and civilians struggling to remove bodies from smoking ruins.

Obiang on Tuesday said the officers in charge of the camp, which houses special forces and gendarmes and their families, had “been careless”.

Dynamite is normally “stocked very far from people and kept underground”, he said.

This video grab obtained by AFPTV from TVGE on March 7, 2021 shows of smoke rising above buildings in Bata, Equatorial Guinea. TVGE / AFP

 

The defence ministry said blasts caused by heavy-calibre munitions caused “shock waves which totally destroyed numerous homes nearby”.

– ‘Still in shock’ –
On Tuesday, residents said Bata was calm but they feared more blasts were possible.

“People continue to send their families to villages in the interior of the country because they think that Sunday’s explosions were a warning and the worst could still happen,” Bata resident Pastor Oyono told AFP by phone.

Another resident, Mba Mambiang, said “we are still in shock. We are also still afraid.”

The only Spanish-speaking country in sub-Saharan Africa, Equatorial Guinea is one of the most closed-off nations on the continent.

Bata is home to 800,000 of the country’s 1.4 million people, most of whom live in poverty despite the country’s oil and gas wealth.

The capital is Malabo, on the island of Bioko.

Its ruler Obiang is the world’s longest-serving sitting president and is frequently accused by rights groups of abuses.

Adding to the difficulty in understanding the full scale of the tragedy, air and sea links have been shut off for weeks due to coronavirus restrictions.

Only military and government aircraft have made the trip over since the explosions.

The president has meanwhile called for foreign help to address the tragedy.

Spain, the former colonial power, announced that an aid plane will leave Madrid on Wednesday with drugs and medical equipment.

The United States embassy said Washington is sending experts to help with damage assessment and reconstruction.

AFP

At Least 20 Killed, 600 Injured In Equatorial Guinea Military Camp Explosions

 

At least 20 people were killed and hundreds injured after four accidental explosions ripped through a military camp in Equatorial Guinea and obliterated neighbouring residential areas.

Footage broadcast by the TVGE channel showed buildings burned and flattened in a wide radius around the Nkoa Ntoma camp in the economic capital Bata, with a thick plume of black smoke rising into the sky.

Children and adults were seen being pulled from the rubble. There were chaotic scenes at the hospital in Bata, with the wounded lying on the floor awaiting treatment.

The health ministry warned in a tweet that many residents could still be buried under the wreckage.

President Teodoro Obiang Nguema said the accident had occurred after local farmers allowed a fire in the area to burn out of control, setting alight explosives that had been badly stored by soldiers at the military camp.

“The city of Bata has been the victim of an accident caused by the negligence of the unit in charge of storing explosives, dynamite and ammunition at the Nkoa Ntoma military camp,” Obiang Nguema said in a statement.

“These caught fire due to stubble-burning by farmers in their fields which ultimately made these depots explode in succession.”

The defence ministry put the death toll at least 20, with some 600 people injured.

The “high calibre” explosives set off by the fire caused “shockwaves” which razed many houses to the ground, the ministry added.

Call for international help

Obiang Nguema issued a plea for international aid.

The disaster comes at an already difficult time for Equatorial Guinea, “due to the economic crisis caused by falling petrol prices, and the Covid-19 pandemic”, he said.

Bata is the largest city in the oil and gas-rich central African nation, with around 800,000 of the nation’s 1.4 million population living there — most of them in poverty.

While Bata sits on the mainland, the capital Malabo is on Bioko, one of the country’s islands off the west African coast. Telephone communication between the two cities was virtually cut off for several hours after the explosions.

Spain, the former colonial power, urged its citizens via its Malabo embassy to stay at home following the blasts.

The Nkoa Ntoma camp, where the explosions struck in the early afternoon, houses among others elements of the army’s special forces and the paramilitary gendarmerie.

The president’s jet-setting son Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, vice president with responsibility for defence and security, appeared in television footage at the scene inspecting the damage, accompanied by his Israeli bodyguards.

Teodorin, as he is known, is increasingly seen as the president’s designated successor.

Equatorial Guinea has been ruled by 78-year-old Obiang Nguema for 42 years, making him the world’s longest-serving sitting president.

Opposition figures and international organisations regularly accuse Obiang Nguema of committing human rights abuses.

The authoritarian leader has seen off at least half a dozen assassination or coup attempts to become Africa’s longest-serving leader.

AFP

At Least 20 Dead, 600 Injured In Equatorial Guinea Blasts

 

 

At least 20 people were killed and hundreds injured after four accidental explosions ripped through a military camp in Equatorial Guinea and obliterated neighbouring residential areas.

Footage broadcast by the TVGE channel showed buildings burned and flattened in a wide radius around the Nkoa Ntoma camp in the economic capital Bata, with a thick plume of black smoke rising into the sky.

Children and adults were seen being pulled from the rubble. There were chaotic scenes at the hospital in Bata, with the wounded lying on the floor awaiting treatment.

The health ministry warned in a tweet that many residents could still be buried under the wreckage.

President Teodoro Obiang Nguema said the accident had occurred after local farmers allowed a fire in the area to burn out of control, setting alight explosives that had been badly stored by soldiers at the military camp.

“The city of Bata has been the victim of an accident caused by the negligence of the unit in charge of storing explosives, dynamite and ammunition at the Nkoa Ntoma military camp,” Obiang Nguema said in a statement.

“These caught fire due to stubble-burning by farmers in their fields which ultimately made these depots explode in succession.”

The defence ministry put the death toll at at least 20, with some 600 people injured.

The “high calibre” explosives set off by the fire caused “shockwaves” which razed many houses to the ground, the ministry added.

– Call for international help –
Obiang Nguema issued a plea for international aid.

The disaster comes at an already difficult time for Equatorial Guinea, “due to the economic crisis caused by falling petrol prices, and the Covid-19 pandemic”, he said.

Bata is the largest city in the oil and gas-rich central African nation, with around 800,000 of the nation’s 1.4 million population living there — most of them in poverty.

While Bata sits on the mainland, the capital Malabo is on Bioko, one of the country’s islands off the west African coast. Telephone communication between the two cities was virtually cut off for several hours after the explosions.

Spain, the former colonial power, urged its citizens via its Malabo embassy to stay at home following the blasts.

The Nkoa Ntoma camp, where the explosions struck in the early afternoon, houses among others elements of the army’s special forces and the paramilitary gendarmerie.

The president’s jet-setting son Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, vice president with responsibility for defence and security, appeared in television footage at the scene inspecting the damage, accompanied by his Israeli bodyguards.

Teodorin, as he is known, is increasingly seen as the president’s designated successor.

Equatorial Guinea has been ruled by 78-year-old Obiang Nguema for 42 years, making him the world’s longest-serving sitting president.

Opposition figures and international organisations regularly accuse Obiang Nguema of committing human rights abuses.

The authoritarian leader has seen off at least half a dozen assassination or coup attempts to become Africa’s longest-serving leader.

AFP

Turkish Women’s Cup: Super Falcons Thrash Equatorial Guinea 9-0

 

The Super Falcons of Nigeria confirmed their status as African champions by thrashing Equatorial Guinea’s Nzalang National 9-0 in their third and final match of the Turkish Women’s Cup competition played at the Emir Sports Complex in Antalya on Tuesday morning.

Captain Asisat Oshoala bagged four of the total with goals in the 11th, 13th (penalties), 26th, and 85th minute, while defender Gloria Ogbonna (8th minute), Uchenna Kanu (36th), Charity Adule (38th), new invitee Toni Oyedupe Payne (43rd) and Gift Monday (69th) also scored to condemn the two-time African champions to a humiliating defeat.

Overall, the Nzalang National scored no goal at the tournament, lost all three matches, and conceded a total of 16 goals.

READ ALSO: Osimhen Returns To Naples After Nasty Head Knock 

The Super Falcons will keep the bragging rights after winning all three matches, scored 11 goals, and conceded nothing.

Defender Gloria Ogbonna opened the scoring as early as the 8th minute, before Oshoala, four-time African Woman Player of the Year, netted twice from six yards as the Guineans conceded penalties within two minutes.

Oshoala, who was Player of the Tournament and Top Scorer at the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup in Canada in 2014, made it four in the 26th minute, before former junior international Uchenna Kanu, Charity Adule, and Oyedupe Payne ensured a 7-0 half-time lead.

The Falcons simply cruised in the second half with Gift Monday, in the 69th, and Oshoala with another goal five minutes to the end.

Equatorial Guinea Imposes Curfew As COVID-19 Rebounds

 

Equatorial Guinea on Tuesday said it would impose a curfew for the first time, limit flights and reintroduce other restrictions after cases of coronavirus rebounded in the West African country.

The tiny state, ruled by 78-year-old President Teodoro Obiang Nguema for the past 41 years, scaled back a rigorously enforced range of restrictions in August.

But bars, restaurants, discotheques, casinos and other “leisure sites” will once again be closed, according to a decree read on television on Tuesday.

But places of worship, which were shut during the first wave last year, will remain open.

Added to these measures is the country’s first curfew, which will run from 7:00 pm to 6:00 am, as well a reduction in flights.

Domestic flights will be cut back to one per day, while international flights will be scaled back to two per week for national airlines and one per week for international carriers.

Wearing masks in public places will remain obligatory.

Equatorial Guinea, a country with 1.3 million people, has officially recorded 5,614 cases of coronavirus, of which 87 have been fatal.

But Tuesday’s decree warned of the “aggressive spread of the pandemic”.

According to official figures reported on state TV, there were fewer than 15 cases per week towards the end of 2020, compared with more than 50 per week currently.

Equatorial Guinea Offers China $2m To Fight Coronavirus

Pedestrians wear face masks in Hong Kong on February 5, 2020, as a preventative measure following a virus outbreak which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan. AFP

 

The tiny central African state of Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday said it would give $2 million (1.8 million euros) to China to help it tackle coronavirus.

The government, which has developed close ties with Beijing, said the donation was a mark of “support and solidarity.”

The new coronavirus has claimed nearly 500 lives, infected more than 24,000 people in mainland China and spread to more than 20 countries since it appeared in late December.

While there has not yet been a confirmed infection reported in sub-Saharan Africa, many countries on the continent have imposed preventative measures.

On January 27, Equatorial Guinea announced that all people entering the country from China would be quarantined for 14 days.

It has since placed 25 people in isolation, according to the country’s national committee to counter the virus.

Equatorial Guinea, an oil-rich state with an entrenched record of authoritarian rule and poverty, has developed close economic links with Beijing. Chinese companies have been awarded a string of contracts for infrastructure projects.

AFP

How Nigeria, Other African Nations Are Preventing Spread Of Coronavirus

A laborant at the State Health Authorities of Baden-Wuerttemberg works on a test sample of a suspected case of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Stuttgart, sothern Germany on January 29, 2020. Germany’s first confirmed coronavirus patient caught the disease from a Chinese colleague who visited Germany last week, officials said on January 28, 2020, in the first human-to-human transmission on European soil, according to an AFP tally. Marijan Murat / dpa / AFP

 

African states, including the continent’s biggest economy, Nigeria, on Wednesday said they had begun to introduce measures aimed at stopping the spread of the new coronavirus.

No verified infection has been reported to date in sub-Saharan Africa, but elsewhere, countries have stopped flights to China and airlifted their citizens out of the area where the virus emerged.

Nigeria issued a travel advisory advising “all Nigerians and persons intending to travel to China” to delay their plans unless the trip is “extremely essential.”

People arriving from China or any country with a “major outbreak” of the disease are advised to stay at home for at least two weeks if they develop any symptoms, according to the advisory issued by Health Minister Osagie Ehanire.

The authorities are also requiring airlines to report any case of sickness on board before the plane lands in Nigeria.


RELATED:

Lassa Fever: 41 People Killed, 258 Cases Confirmed Since 2020 – FG

Coronavirus: Nigerian Govt Shuts Down Supermarket In Abuja


“Nigerian ports, health services, and (the) Nigeria Centre for Disease Control are on alert at our airports and other ports of entry,” the advisory said.

Meanwhile, the small central African state of Equatorial Guinea, said it had quarantined four travellers who had arrived from Beijing.

The four had landed on Tuesday aboard an Ethiopian Airlines flight at the airport in the capital of Malabo, the government said.

On Monday, the prime minister’s office had announced that all passengers from China would be placed in quarantine for 14 days.

In West Africa, the Chinese embassy in Mauritania said China had asked its nationals who have recently arrived or returned to the country to remain confined for at least 14 days.

There was no indication that the message was motivated by any specific situation in Mauritania.

The embassy also advised Chinese planning to travel to Mauritania to postpone their trip. It said those already in the country should communicate daily about their health and avoid public gatherings.

Experts say the potential spread of the virus in Africa is a concern because of the poor healthcare infrastructure in many parts of the continent.

An oil-rich state with an entrenched record of authoritarian rule and poverty, Equatorial Guinea has developed close economic ties with Beijing.

Chinese companies have been awarded a string of contracts for infrastructure projects.

The Mauritanian government has set up a crisis unit and placed thermal cameras at the airports of Nouakchott and Nouadhibou.

Many of the Chinese in Mauritania work in technical assistance, Chinese projects and trade operations, but there no direct flights between the two countries.

IMF Loans Equatorial Guinea $280m Despite Controversy

The International Monetary Fund, is an international organization headquartered in Washington, D.C.

 

The International Monetary Fund has extended a 280-million-dollar loan to oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, despite protests by rights monitors who cited sweeping misrule and corruption in the central African country.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam had opposed the loan until the government of the country, ruled with an iron fist by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema for four decades, cleaned up its act.

“The arrangement is intended to support the authorities’ three-year economic program, which aims at further reducing macroeconomic imbalances and addressing financial sector vulnerabilities; improving social protection and human capital development; promoting economic diversification; and fostering good governance, increasing transparency and fighting corruption,” an IMF statement said Thursday.

About $40.4 million of the total will be disbursed immediately and the remainder over a three-year period, the Washington-based lender said.

IMF deputy managing director Tao Zhang said: “In recent years, the Equatoguinean economy has been impacted by a sharp decline in oil prices and a secular decline in hydrocarbon output, which led to large macroeconomic imbalances and negative economic growth.

“The economy has also been affected by longstanding governance and corruption problems.

“While the authorities have taken steps to address these challenges, a more comprehensive approach is needed to tackle them effectively and achieve sustainable and inclusive growth,” Tao said.

“The IMF loan should force Equatorial Guinea to undertake deep reforms in the way the country exploits its natural resources,” said Sarah Saadoun, a researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“A slew of international lawsuits for corruption have been filed against the son of the president, who holds the post of vice-president”, added Tutu Alicante, the head of a local NGO called EG Justice.

Vice President Teodorin Obiang Nguema is notorious for his free-spending lifestyle and his multi-million-dollar mansions strewn across the world in some of the world’s most expensive areas.

Rights groups accuse President Obiang of ruthlessly clamping down on the opposition and institutional corruption.

Despite its oil wealth, the vast majority of the population live in dire poverty.

 

AFP

Equatorial Guinea Seeks To End Hire Of War Mercenaries In Central Africa

US Ambassador to the UN, Kelly Craft, chairs a UN Security Council meeting on “Non-proliferation/Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” December 11, 2019, at UN Headquarters in New York. Eskinder DEBEBE / UNITED NATIONS / AFP

 

Equatorial Guinea this week submitted a draft resolution to its fellow UN Security Council members on reinforcing efforts to combat mercenaries fighting in central Africa.

The draft, obtained Tuesday by AFP, does not name any specific countries, but instead calls on all member states to stamp out the practice of hiring foreign fighters.

It asks them to “introduce legislative measures to ensure that their nationals do not participate in the recruitment, gathering, financing, training, protection or transit of foreign mercenaries or combatants.”

It also asks that they refrain from the “planning of activities to destabilize the situation in a state or undermine or totally or partially compromise the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent states.”

Several UN missions were surprised at the filing of the draft, as Equatorial Guinea’s two-year term on the Security Council as a non-permanent member ends on December 31.

One diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity that a vote on the measure was not a sure thing.

The draft is focused on central Africa — a region that includes Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Chad and other countries.

Russian mercenaries have been active in the area in the past, and Moscow has recently been accused of involving itself in the deployment of armed fighters in Libya and Mali.

Russia denies the claims.

The draft resolution says that the United Nations is “alarmed by the danger that mercenary activities represent for international peace and security… especially for central African states.”

It “urges all central African states to take the necessary measures, cooperate with each other and exercise maximum vigilance against the threat posed by mercenaries.”

 

AFP

Internet: A Distant Dream For Many In Oil-Rich Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea is awash in oil, although little of the wealth has trickled down to the poor.

Also, one of the most glaring inequalities is access to the internet.

Other parts of the world are pushing ahead with plans for fast, free — or at least low-cost — universal online access. Equatorial Guinea, a small reclusive state on the coast of central-western Africa, seems stuck in a timewarp.

With rare exceptions, sluggish speeds and stratospheric bills are the daily lot of people who want to search for information on the web, use social media, email, messaging and the myriad of other internet activities that are routine elsewhere.

“The internet in Equatorial Guinea is still a big-money business, reserved for those who can afford it,” said Mboro Mba, 35, seated on the ground behind a hotel as he tried to hook into a free wi-fi service with his smartphone.

Equatorial Guinea has the most expensive internet in the world after Zimbabwe, according to a list published this year by Ecobank, a pan-African bank.

One gigabyte of mobile data — roughly equivalent to watching an hour of television on Netflix — costs an eye-watering $35 dollars (31 euros).

By comparison, the average monthly pay of a manual worker or restaurant waiter in Equatorial Guinea is between 100,000-150,000 CFA francs ($170-260, 150-230 euros).

“For 2,000 CFA francs (3.40 euros), I can’t even download an 80-second video,” a local journalist told colleagues from central Africa who had come to Malabo to cover a regional meeting and found themselves caught out by internet problems.

“You really have to be patient to work with the internet in this country,” said a visitor from the Republic of Congo, unsuccessfully trying to send files to his editor.

The barriers to internet access here are so high that the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a UN agency, estimates that just a quarter — 26 percent — of Equatorial Guineans go online.

The authorities have set up a “free, public internet network” along the Paseo Maritimo, a seafront six kilometres (3.5 miles) long in Malabo that is also used for sporting activities and leisurely strolls.

“I come here almost every evening to talk on WhatsApp to my mother who is in Spain,” says Filomena, 32, a clothes vendor.

“I don’t have the money to have an internet connection, so I come here often with my friends to use the wi-fi,” schoolboy Jorge Obiang says, leaning against a tree with several young companions, all glued to their screens.

A former Spanish colony, Equatorial Guinea is nominally one of the richest states in Africa thanks to oil income.

By next month, its president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, will have ruled with an iron fist for 40 years — the longest tenure of any African leader alive today.

He has long been criticised for corruption within the regime and lack of openness to the rest of the world.

The slow service is especially paradoxical since “the country is situated in the Gulf of Guinea and so has access to a number of seabed cables”, said Julie Owono of Internet Sans Frontieres (Internet Without Borders), an NGO.

Equatorial Guinea — consisting of an island where Malabo lies and a forested territory on the African mainland that hosts trading capital Bata — is connected to three undersea fibre optic cables supplying internet service.

In neighbouring Gabon, internet access is five times less expensive on the scale drawn up by Ecobank.

No competition

The sky-high price of the internet “is explained by the very strong presence of the state (telecom) company on the market and lack of competition,” Owono said.

“Everything here is centralised, political decisions depend on one person or a family, and it is difficult to establish a competitive market.”

The state telecoms agency GITGE, which sets tariffs, declined to respond to AFP’s questions.

Another disincentive for the competition is internet blackouts ordered by those in power, she said.

In November 2017, on the eve of parliamentary elections, access to WhatsApp was blocked and social media became unavailable for five months.

“We’re living in the information era — the government is applying an enormous brake,” said Owono.

AFP

France Urges United Nation’s Top Court To Dump Equatorial Guinea Case

Macron 'Happy' Merkel Coalition Deal In Sight
File: French President Emmanuel Macron                                                                                IMAGE:LUDOVIC MARIN / AFP

 

France on Monday urged the UN’s top court to throw out a case brought against it in a bitter diplomatic row with oil-rich Equatorial Guinea over French accusations of top-level corruption.

“France has not accepted the jurisdiction of this court under any title whatsoever to entertain those facts on which Equatorial Guinea seeks the court to rule,” the French representative Francois Alabrune told the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Malabo has accused Paris of violating the diplomatic immunity of its vice president, Teodorin Obiang, after he was prosecuted by a French court on charges of embezzling 150 million euros ($180 million) of public funds to finance his jet-set lifestyle.

Obiang, 48, the son of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, was tried in absentia and sentenced in October to a three-year suspended sentence for corruption.

The top official from the small central African state was also given a suspended fine of 30 million euros ($35 million) for money laundering, corruption and abuse. His lawyer has said he will appeal.

But Equatorial Guinea has also lodged a complaint with the ICJ in The Hague, the UN’s top court set up to resolve disputes between countries.

Four days of hearings opened Monday, with France setting out its reasons why it believed the ICJ is not competent to hear the case.

Equatorial Guinea contends however that not only was the Vienna Convention conferring diplomatic immunity on Obiang broken, but French officials also failed to uphold the diplomatic status of a building it maintains is Malabo’s embassy in Paris.

Teodoro Obiang Nguema is Africa longest-serving president and has ruled the country with an iron fist since 1979. He extended his rule in April 2016 when he was re-elected with 93.7 percent of the vote.

He appointed his son as vice president in June 2016 — two years after the first charges were first brought in France.

In 2012, French authorities swooped on the Obiang family’s six-storey mansion on the Avenue Foch — one of the most upmarket addresses in Paris — seizing it along with a fleet of luxury cars including two Bugatti Veyrons and a Rolls-Royce Phantom.

Police also took away vanloads of valuables, including paintings, a $4.2-million clock and fine wines worth thousands of euros per bottle.

The UN judges in The Hague in 2016 urged France to ensure the protection of the diplomatic mission in Paris, but sidestepped Malabo’s request to order Obiang’s trial to be halted.

Relations between the two countries have furthered deteriorated after Malabo’s foreign minister, Agapito Mba Mokuy, said an attempted coup in December had been hatched on French soil, although he said the French authorities had “nothing to do with” it.

AFP

Equatorial Guinea President Meets Buhari, Slams Boko Haram

The President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Mbasogo has called for collaborative efforts to ensuring peace and development of the continent.

Mbasogo made this known when he visited President Buhari on Tuesday at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

He described coup plotters in the country and also the Boko Haram terrorists as dogs.

In solving the crisis between Nigeria and Cameroon, Mbasogo suggested dialogue and called for discussions among members of the region to be initiated by Nigeria, in tackling piracy and oil theft in the Gulf of Guinea.