Huge blast at oil terminal in Guinea's capital kills at least 18 people

Article by Kerry Hebden

AT LEAST 18 people are dead and 178 have been injured following a huge explosion, and subsequent fire at Guinea’s main oil terminal in the capital of Conakry. The total number of casualties and fatalities could still rise as according to a government spokesman, officials “still haven't finished counting the number of victims", the BBC said. 

Reports say the massive fire and billowing black smoke were visible from miles away, and workers, excluding defence, security and medical personnel, were advised to stay at home. Schools, and public places in the area have also been closed. The fire is believed to have affected around 738 homes, mainly in the Coronthie area - home to some of the country’s poorest households. 

The West African nation is now however facing fuel shortages, and electricity outages caused by the destruction of crucial fuel stocks. 

Guinea has no petroleum refineries in the country, and instead relies heavily on imports. This means that any disruption in fuel deliveries can provoke fuel shortages. 

The depot, which is operated by the Guinean Petroleum Company, and supplies most of the fuel in Guinea, had been in the process of being relocated to a remote site in a bid to avoid a potential disaster.  

It is unclear what caused the explosion at the depot, but AP News has reported that a worker at the depot said the explosion occurred while a ship was offloading. “I lost several of my friends in this fire. Some like me are guards, others are technicians. ... All offices are destroyed as well as all equipment,” said the worker. 

Authorities said they have started an investigation into the incident, and have halted operations of all tankers, and gas stations, to curb panic buying of the commodity. 

But Reuters has reported that the black-market price of petrol has already jumped 150%, and has caused residents around 260 km from Conakry to besiege gas stations as black-market prices soared. 

Article by Kerry Hebden

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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