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Republic of the Congo: Red Cross swings into action following Brazzaville explosions

06-03-2012 News Release 12/45

Geneva / Brazzaville / Yaoundé (ICRC / Congolese Red Cross / International Federation) – Since ammunition stockpiles exploded in Brazzaville on 4 March, reportedly leaving over 150 people dead and several thousands injured or without shelter, the Red Cross has been responding to the most urgent needs.

In temporary shelters, the Congolese Red Cross is providing support and assistance for displaced people, some of whom lost close relatives when their homes were destroyed. Congolese Red Cross personnel were immediately mobilized on the morning of 4 March to take casualties to hospital as quickly as possible.

"Our first-aid workers are currently unable to approach the ammunition store in Mpila, where the blasts occurred, because we fear that some devices may not have exploded," said Christian Sedar Ndinga, the president of the Congolese Red Cross. "We are hopeful that we will soon be able to recover bodies and any injured people who may be there. We are concerned that the devices may cause further harm."

Two days after the disaster occurred, components of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement on the scene (the Congolese Red Cross, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the French Red Cross) are focusing their efforts on providing support for health-care centres, attending to the needs of children separated from their families, and managing mortal remains. Obtaining access to the blast site and securing the surroundings are also priorities.

These activities are being conducted in close cooperation with the authorities concerned.

For further information, please contact:
Gabriel GOMA MAHINGA, CRC Brazzaville, tel. : (+242) 06 674 35 66 / 05 521 05 40
Maria Puy Serra, ICRC Yaoundé, tel: +237 99 41 65 79
Denis Duffaut, International Federation Yaoundé, tel: +237 77 11 77 97
Marie-Servane Desjonquères, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 31 60 or +41 79 536 92 58
Jessica Sallabank, International Federation Geneva, tel: +41 79 948 11 48