02:04 - Source: CNN
Depot blasts caused by electrical short

Story highlights

Hospitals are overflowing with wounded, an official says

An electrical short is the suspected cause of the ammo dump blasts

Congo's government says the explosions killed at least 200 people

The concussions broke windows across the Congo River in Kinshasa

CNN —  

A series of explosions at an ammunition depot killed 200 people and wounded about 2,000 more in Brazzaville, the capital of Africa’s Republic of Congo, Congolese officials said Monday.

The explosions occurred shortly after 8 a.m. Sunday (2 a.m. ET) when a fire at the depot set off a cache of tank shells, said Betu Bangana, director of protocol for President Denis Sassou-Nguesso. Bangana said at least 200 people had been confirmed dead by Monday morning, and many bodies may be “unfindable.”

Ministry of Information press attache Bruno Impene said hospitals were overflowing, with the wounded lying in the corridors. The blasts destroyed numerous homes in the neighborhoods surrounding the installation, Bangana said.

The force of the explosions broke windows up to 5 km (3 miles) away in Kinshasa, the capital of the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo. The DRC’s military responded by putting tanks and troops on the streets and the banks of the Congo River, which separates the two cities, until it became clear that no attack on the capital was under way.

Impene said a short circuit the suspected cause of the fire. Authorities are treating the blaze as accidental, Bangana said.

CNN’s Nkepile Mabuse and journalist Fred Robarts contributed to this report.