YAOUNDE, Cameroon

The World Health Organization (WHO) Africa office on Tuesday said it is helping Equatorial Guinea to “manage the mass casualty crisis,” following multiple explosions at a military base that killed 98 people and wounded hundreds of others.

“Teams are preparing emergency medical supply shipments & offering technical assistance to care for the more than 400 wounded,” it said on Twitter.

On Sunday, a series of explosions rocked an armory of the Nkuantoma Gendarmerie and military barracks in Bata, the commercial city of Equatorial Guinea.

The explosions caused widespread damage to residential buildings. Foreign Minister Simeon Oyono Esono Angue called for international support describing the situation as catastrophic.

The health system in the country is already stretched by the COVID-19 response, which makes this emergency critical, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said late Monday.

The first humanitarian aid plane from Spain arrived in Bata with essential medical supplies for hospitals to attend to those affected by the explosion, the Health Ministry said on Twitter on Tuesday.

On Monday, the country’s Health Ministry said 316 of those injured have been discharged and 299 remain admitted at Bata Regional Hospital, La Paz Medical Center and Guinea Salud Polyclinic.

Equatorial Guinea is a small country of some 1.2 million, relies heavily on its oil and natural gas industry.

The Central African country is made up of the Rio Muni mainland and five volcanic offshore islands. The capital, Malabo, on Bioko Island, is a hub for the country’s prosperous oil industry.

Bata is a port and commercial city on the country’s mainland.

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