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13 Killed in Guinea Oil Terminal Blast; Extent of Damage Unclear


Firemen work to extinguish fire after a blast at an oil terminal in Conakry, Guinea, Dec. 18, 2023.
Firemen work to extinguish fire after a blast at an oil terminal in Conakry, Guinea, Dec. 18, 2023.

The death toll from a blast at an oil terminal in Guinea's capital Conakry on Monday has risen to 13, a senior police source said, as the government warned the incident could have repercussions for the wider population.

The explosion 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 head of civil protection, Jean Traore, said 88 people were injured. He earlier gave a death toll of 11.

The extent of the damage to the terminal was 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.

The origin of the fire was unknown, and an investigation would be launched to determine what caused it and any parties responsible, the government said in a statement.

It said the scale of the incident "could have a direct impact on the population," but did not elaborate.

Firefighters had largely contained the blaze by Monday afternoon. Earlier, 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 defense, security and medical personnel, were advised to stay at home. Schools and most gas stations were also closed.

The country has a small oil depot at the port in Kamsar, north of Conakry, mostly used by mining firms.

Concerns over a potential fuel shortage prompted residents in the town of Mamou, around 260 km (about 161.56 mi) from Conakry, to besiege gas stations.

"A liter of gasoline is currently being sold for 20,000 Guinean franc ($2.35) on the black market," said Alpha Bah, a motorcycle taxi rider, told Reuters.

That's up from 12,000 Guinean franc previously.

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