Around 200 people have been killed after an arms dump exploded in Congo’s capital Brazzaville.
Hundreds more were hurt in blasts which also sparked panic and shattered windows in Kinshasa in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.
As medical help arrived in Brazzaville, reports said people were still trapped in their homes and that an entire neighbourhood may have been destroyed.
Defence Minister Charles Zacharie Bowao
dismissed any talk of a coup attempt or mutiny, saying the explosions were caused by a fire at the arms depot.
“I was at home and suddenly we heard a bang coming from the military camp,” said one local man, who suffered a head injury. “Everyone was running away. Houses were falling down. Walls were falling down. My uncle and I went out onto the street. A wall fell on my head.”
Around 1,500 people have been injured according to unconfirmed figures from a European diplomatic source. Reports say the Russian embassy was among the buildings damaged.