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Catholic Nuns Serving in Equatorial Guinea Recount Explosion that Killed Dozens

Debris of shattered buildings from an explosion in Bata, Equatorial Guinea

Members of the Community of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Anne working among victims of a recent explosion that claimed more than 100 people in Bata in the Northwestern of Equatorial Guinea have recounted the horrific experience and how they sprang into action to assist those who had been affected.

“On Sunday, 7 March, around 1 p.m., we heard a loud noise, as if the house was shaking,” a member of the Congregation says in a report shared by Agenzia Fides Friday, March 26.

She further narrates, “A few minutes later, another noise was heard, which caused the destruction of the doors and windows of the hotel which is in front of the house. We started to receive calls and messages telling us what had happened, namely an explosion at the Nkoantoma barracks, which is some 6 km from where we live.”

Agenzia Fides reports that the Religious Sisters serve in the Catholic Diocese of Bata in city of Bata, the economic capital and the most populous city of Equatorial Guinea where, on March 7, at least five major explosions in the area of the Nkoantoma barracks destroyed a large part of the buildings of the military installations and surrounding houses.

The tragedy caused the loss of some 107 human lives; over 600 people got injuries of varied magnitude.

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The country’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema attributed the accident to negligence related to the handling of dynamite and said the explosions damaged almost all homes and buildings in the region.

The Sisters of Charity of St. Anne told Agenzia Fides that on getting the devastating news, they immediately mobilized to help the victims.

“In less than two hours and without knowing exactly what was going on, we made our way to the general hospital as we had been informed that this is where the wounded were being brought,” the Nun whose name is not mentioned in the Agenzia Fides story recalls.

She adds, “We loaded our car with medical supplies and offered our full support… In all this difficult situation, we have seen the rapid response of support and solidarity from the population.”

Through the help of the Religious Sisters and other volunteers, some 200 health workers were rushed to the hospital operated by the Nuns where they recount that volunteers, nurses, doctors, medical students “all faced something they did not understand.”

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The Nuns said that Parishes and Catholic schools in the region have made their structures available to accommodate dozens of homeless families.

“We, as a health center, continue to treat dozens of people suffering from bruises and the physical and psychological consequences of these explosions,” the member of the Congregation who spoke on behalf of the community said.

Meanwhile, a member of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) also working in Bata compares the aftermath of the explosion to the worst movie.

Fr. Francisco Moro, Director of the Spanish Institute of the Salesians working Bata recounted the experiences of the Sunday, March 7 explosion.

“We are currently experiencing something worse than a horror movie,” Fr. Francisco narrates in the report published by Agenzia Fides March 26.

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Recalling the experience, he added, “The Salesian school is 2.5 km from the site of the explosions and we did not suffer serious damage, but everything shook and even I jumped because of the shock wave.”

Agenzia Fides reports that the Salesian educational center welcomed more than 100 people in its structures, mostly women and minors.

Additionally, more than 200 people come every day for lunch or dinner and another large group of 200 people are being helped in the neighborhoods where they have been relocated as displaced persons, the information service of the Vatican's Propaganda Fide has reported.

“We need help so that we can continue to take care of them because many others come to have lunch here because of the consequences of the pandemic,” the Director of the Salesian school appeals in the March 26 report.