By Saliou Samb
CONAKRY (Reuters) -An explosion at an oil terminal in Guinea’s capital Conakry killed at least 13 people and injured 178 on Monday, the government said, as firefighters worked through the afternoon to fully extinguish the blaze.
The blast at the West African nation’s main oil terminal rocked the Kaloum administrative district in downtown Conakry early in the morning, blowing out the windows of nearby homes and forcing hundreds to flee, according to a Reuters witness.
The government gave a provisional death toll of 13 and 178 injured, 89 of whom were well enough to return home.
“The fire has been contained and efforts are under way to fully extinguish it,” it said in a statement on Monday afternoon.
Residents of the surrounding neighbourhood were advised to wear face masks.
The extent of the damage to the terminal remains unclear. Guinea is not an oil producer and has no refining capacity. It imports refined products, mostly stored in the Kaloum terminal and distributed via trucks across the country.
An investigation will be launched to determine what caused the incident and any parties responsible, the government said.
Earlier on Monday, a massive fire and billowing black smoke were visible from miles away, as several tanker trucks left the Conakry depot, escorted by soldiers and police.
Workers, excluding defence, security and medical personnel, were advised to stay at home. Schools and gas stations were also closed, the latter to prevent price speculation.
Concerns over a potential fuel shortage prompted residents in the town of Mamou, around 260 km from Conakry, to besiege gas stations as black market prices soared.
The government said it was identifying vital fuel needs to prevent shortages in areas that rely on deliveries from the coast.
(Reporting by Saliou Samb; Writing by Bate Felix, Anait Miridzhanian and Sofia Christensen; Editing by Jason Neely, Gerry Doyle, Bernadette Baum and Nick Macfie)