Fourteen people were killed and 178 others injured after a powerful explosion and fire at the main fuel depot in Guinea rocked the centre of the capital Conakry early on Monday, causing substantial damage and bringing the city to a standstill.Schools were closed and workers told to stay at home as thick black smoke filled the sky. Residents fled the area where the blast occurred, images on social networks showed.The incident happened at around midnight (0000 GMT) at the state oil company’s main depot in the Kaloum district of Conakry, near the port.The fire was brought under control in the afternoon, and of the injured treated by emergency services and in hospitals, 113 have been discharged, according to a government statement read on national television late Monday.Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, the head of the ruling junta who seized power after a 2021 coup, called for “solidarity and prayer for the nation in this difficult time” while the results of an investigation ordered by the government are awaited.The government announced the closure of schools and urged workers to stay at home in Conakry and its surrounding area.”It was a deafening noise that woke us up,” a resident told AFP. “The windows of our home and those of our neighbours were smashed. We managed to get away from the place,” he added. Dansa Kourouma, head of the National Transitional Council (CNT) — the parliament appointed by the military junta — said the fire had caused “extensive damage including loss of human life”.- Crisis unit -Dozens of civil protection vehicles and water company trucks were at the site, an AFP journalist saw. Security forces have blocked off the port district and a strong smell of burnt fuel hung in the air.A crisis unit coordinated by Security Minister Bachir Diallo has been set up. A health emergency plan is also in place to support the injured, the information ministry said.Emergency rescue personnel from abroad, notably neighbouring countries Senegal and Mali, are to arrive soon, Diallo said. The European Union and the United States have expressed their solidarity.Service stations are temporarily closed across the country.An evacuation point for people living nearby has also been established at the parliament building, the government said.- ‘Thrown to ground’ – “We heard a loud bang which threw us to the ground without understanding what was happening,” local resident Marietou Camara told AFP.”We prayed, hoping for God’s favour. Others didn’t try to understand, opting to head for the suburbs,” she added.The normally lively port district was quiet Monday, with some locals having hurriedly left the central area during the night and others staying indoors.The cause of the fire was unclear, officials said, and its “scale and consequences could have a direct impact on the population”. Guinea has been ruled since September 2021 by a junta led by Doumbouya, who stormed the presidential palace with soldiers and overthrew civilian president Alpha Conde.Conde was Guinea’s first democratically elected president and took office in 2010 after decades of authoritarian rule. Doumbouya has promised to hand the reins of government back to elected civilians by January 2026.