Brazzaville fires under control as death toll rises to at least 236


The Brazzaville fires that started two days ago after a blast at an ammunitions storage facility have been brought under control, as the death toll rose to at least 236, The Associated Press reported

The explosions, which have been blamed on a short circuit, were so forceful they destroyed hundreds of houses and were felt as far as Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, across the Congo river, Agence France Presse reported

"It's like a tsunami without water," said the Congo's Security Minister Raymond Zephirin Mboulou as he conducted an inspection with other Cabinet members, the AP reported. 

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Police told the AP that international firefighters had reigned in the fires by Tuesday morning, quelling fears that the blaze would spread to a second munitions facility close by, which houses even heavier-caliber weapons, including multiple rocket launchers, according to the AP. 

The blasts have left around 1,500 people injured, and both the Congo and the international community have been scrambling to provide assistance to the wounded and displaced, according to the BBC. 

"Our focus is on mobilizing immediate assistance for the Congolese Red Cross," the European Union's Aid Commissioner Kristalina Giorgevia said on a visit to Brazzaville on Monday, BBC News reported. "And then, through our civil protection authorities, to bring doctors, nurses and medical supplies, so help can be available as soon as possible." 

The morgue at the city's Central University Hospital no longer has enough space for the victims of the blasts, the AP reported.

"We've been forced to place two bodies in each rack," said funeral services director Ferdinand Malembo Milandou.  

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Around 20 doctors from the Democratic Republic of Congo arrived in Brazzaville Monday, as did dozens of French doctors and surgeons. Moroccan military doctors set up a field hospital, the AFP reported. Israel said it was buying emergency medical equipment in South Africa to ship to the Congo, and the United States and UN Secretary-General Bank Ki-moon have also pledged assistance to the Congo.

The UN said it would provide food and tents to some 3,000 people left homeless by the explosions, according to the AFP. 

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