Volunteers, aid workers rally to help Guinea after fuel depot fireTue, 19 Dec 2023 22:15:42 GMT

Foreign rescue and aid workers, along with the UN and volunteers, rallied Tuesday to help victims of the explosion and fire at Guinea’s main oil depot on Monday that killed 18 people, injured 212 others and prompted concerns about fuel supplies.Volunteers collected food donations for those in need after the blast at the state oil company’s main depot in the Kaloum district of the capital, Conakry, near the port.The explosion, whose cause is still unknown, wreaked damage to buildings over a radius of more than one kilometre (0.6 miles).Windows were shattered in several buildings in the port area, including a modern district which is home to banks and insurance companies.”Despite the efforts by medical teams, we lament four new deaths today, bringing the total to 18,” the government said in a statement.”Of the 212 people treated by health workers, 127 have returned to their homes and 85 people are still hospitalised, including four in intensive care,” it said.Dozens of people came forward to help in whatever way they could.Accountant and business manager Mariame Diallo said she was going around shops collecting donations and taking them to a drop-off point at a mosque.”We are in the process of collecting everything that goodwill brings us,” said Abdouramane Sylla, another volunteer.”We have a vehicle loaned by the city hall to transport this material.”International help was also on hand.A 24-member team of Senegalese rescuers, including 15 military doctors and eight firefighting specialists, arrived late Monday, Senegal’s defence ministry said, adding that further teams would follow.A French assistance and support team is on ground in the country, France’s foreign ministry said on social media.And the United Nations said in a statement it was providing tents, water tanks, mobile toilets, medicines and other essential supplies.- Anxious residents -After authorities urged people to stay home Monday, some workers headed out on Tuesday, but others feared another explosion.The fire was brought under control on Monday, authorities said, but smoke continued to billow from the disaster site as firefighters continued to work Tuesday.”I’m waiting to see how the day is going to go before going over there, because my office is a few minutes from the port and from the fuel depot centre,” Lamine Diallo said.In central Conakry, offices, banks and insurance offices remained closed, and the district around the port is deserted after residents fled.Service stations are temporarily closed across the country over concerns of fuel shortages, and many people avoided taking their cars, though the government said Tuesday that fuel supplies had resumed across the nation.The government “wants us to believe that there will not be a fuel shortage, which I doubt,” lorry driver Souleymane Traore said. The government said it was carrying out an assessment of fuel needs and supplies.The fire was brought under control Monday afternoon but smoke was still rising from the site. Soldiers were preventing traffic entering the area. A legal investigation has been opened to establish the cause and responsibilities of the incident.Guinea has been ruled since September 2021 when a junta led by Colonel Mamady Doumbouya overthrew civilian president Alpha Conde.Doumbouya has promised to hold elections and restore civilian rule by January 2026