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April 4, 2012

Brazzaville picks up the pieces after ammo depot explosion

Brazzaville picks up the pieces after ammo depot explosion

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Many women and children have been living in the grounds of the Sacred Heart Cathedral since munitions in a Brazzaville army barracks exploded on March 4, 2012.
Image: Laudes Martial Mbon/IRIN.

The Brazzaville Arms Depot was located in Mpila.
Image: NASA.

The average number of deaths per incident of an explosion is 3, according to a six-month study conducted by Landmine Action and Medact in 2009.
Image: Crtew.

Brazzaville munitions depot explosion as of March 14, 2012. The map shows the extent of the exclusion zone, the redzone checkpoint and 1km radius from ground zero.
Image: MapAction.

Christian Sedar Ndinga, president of the Congolese Red Cross, talks about the role played by local and trained volunteers in responding to the March 4 blast in Brazzaville.
Video: International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Extensive damage was caused to residential areas of Brazzaville when munitions at an army barracks blew up on March 4, 2012.
Image: Laudes Martial Mbon/IRIN.

World relief organizations are assisting the Republic of the Congo after last month’s deadly explosions at the Brazzaville Arms Depot that claimed around 300 lives, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross, and left parts of the city looking like a war zone.

One month after the March 4 explosions and the relief efforts continue.

Bernard Metraux, who is in charge of the ICRC mission in Brazzaville, said 292 people have died and around 12 bodies were still unidentified as of Monday. On Saturday, Pierre Moussa, Minister of Defense for the Republic of Congo, released a slightly lower death toll of 282. There was no explanation for discrepancies between the government’s and the relief organization’s figures as the ICRC’s previous statement was already higher than Moussa’s figure. Moussa said the death count, however, is expected to rise higher as the relief operations continue.

Metraux also reported 75 children were still missing. The international organization has had success reuniting 42 children with their families in the aftermath and locating 23 missing children since.

Also, the World Health Organization has confirmed around 10 cases of cholera, which was supported by Alexis Elira Dokekias, the nation’s director general of health.

Already in the first month of the operation, the munitions clearing teams have disposed of 16 tons of ordinance.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies expects the relief operation to last three more months.

The Brazzaville blast

To put the Brazzaville blast into perspective, the number of people killed by the depot explosion this month is almost 100 times the average number of people killed in explosive incidents, based on figures presented by Landmine Action and Medact of explosions and deaths from around the world. The average death per explosive incident was reported by Landmine Action to be 3.3 people (see infographic).

The blast on March 4, 2012, was actually three separate explosions that were caused by an electrical short circuit at the depot. The blast injured 2,500, made 14,000 homeless, and disrupted education for 20,000 students. The explosion collapsed whole buildings nearby, including a church; contaminated the area within 1 km; and destroyed windows as far away as 4 km. The force of the explosion could be felt in neighboring Kinshasa. And, most dangerous for people now, the blast spread live munitions over a perimeter that spans 6 km. The Talangaï Hospital, one of Brazzaville’s medical centers, was the most critical site affected. A portion of the hospital was destroyed and unexploded ordinances were spread over the premises.

Brazzaville is the capital of the Republic of the Congo. According to the US State Department, 70 percent of the country’s population lives in Brazzaville. It is the largest city there with a population of over 1.2 million, according to the CIA World Factbook. Nearly one third of the population there lives near the affected sections of the city, including Talangaï, Ouenzé, Moungali and Mfilou which were close to the depot located in the Mpila district.

The storage of arms in city centers is more common in Africa. In an interview with Wikinews, Dr. Kelechi Kalu, who is the director of the Center for African Studies at Ohio State University, said the orgins of the practice go back to the Cold War when the United States and the Soviet Union would arm opposite sides and would locate the arms so that the forces they supported could have access to them. After the Cold War, however, the practice was continued by governing institutions. “The institutional structure that is supposed to handle explosives such as this and dispose of them in order to keep people safe are not as developed as people would expect.” Kalu referred to another armory explosion in January 27, 2002, in Lagos, Nigeria that killed over 1000 people.

The 2009 report from Landmine Action said casualities as a result of explosives happens regularly around the world and the number of incidents spreads globally within a fairly short period of time — six months of data were studied. The report said the worst cases with high death rates occurred when explosive violence took place in urban settings, like the blast from the arms depot located in the highly populated area of Brazzaville.

Moreover, the Landmine Action study reported that civilians, especially women and children, fared worse from these blasts. Congolese citizen Irène Ithos, 44, and a mother of three, told IRIN News that the blast was unprecedented in her lifetime. It is one of the Republic of the Congo’s worst catastrophes since its civil war was fought between 1997 and 1999. The depot itself was a holdover from the civil war era.

The relief operation

Cquote1.svg The main thing now is to clear those areas as quickly as possible … Cquote2.svg

—Bernard Metraux

Dealing with the unexploded munitions is urgent. “The main thing now is to clear those areas as quickly as possible so that the people who live or work there and want to go back can do so without danger,” said Metraux.

The Congolese army has fenced off the 1km area around the depot so that the site can be decontaminated. The United Nations Mine Action Coordination Centre is trying to dispose of the live munitions so that the Brazzaville residents can leave the camps and return to their homes. The organizations involved in ordinance disposal also include the British Mines Advisory Group, a contingent from Handicap International, and the ICRC. With so much ordinance underneath the ruins, the Congolese Red Cross is playing an important role in warning residents to call for assistance if they see ammunition.

Early on the Congolese Red Cross, as the area’s first responders, provided first aid, transported crush victims from the fallen buildings and burn victims to the military and university hospitals, and provided blankets and water, said Christian Sedar Ndinga, president the country’s organization. The Congolese Red Cross mobilized 200 volunteers in response to the crisis.

While the relief agencies working with the Congolese have alleviated some needs, the effort still has holes to fill. Six sites have been established to relieve the homeless, but the camps do not have enough tents. One of those sites is the Sacred Heart Cathedral and it has 20 tents that were set up by the French army, but those are not enough, and during rains, even when the church is opened, not all people can be sheltered. The Nkombo Market is the other large relief site; it is a covered market converted into a shelter. The sites, however, have allowed Doctors Without Borders to vaccinate 2,500 children from measles and the medical staff there has reported some malnutrition cases.



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June 21, 2010

Wreckage of crashed plane in Africa found

Wreckage of crashed plane in Africa found

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Monday, June 21, 2010

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The wreckage of an aircraft carrying eleven mining executives from Australia has been found in Cameroon, according to the country’s information minister.

According to the official, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, either nine or ten bodies have been recovered from the aircraft, which was reported missing on Saturday and apparently crashed in the Congo. Bakary said that “[t]he wreckage has been found in Congo. Unfortunately there were no survivors.”

The plane, a Casa C212, was traveling from Cameroon to Congo, where Sundance Resources, an Australian mining company whose entire board of directors was on the plane, is trying to develop an iron ore mine. Contact with the plane was lost around an hour after it took off.

In addition to six Australians, including one of the country’s richest men, Ken Talbot, there were two British, two French, and one US citizen on board the plane. The search for the downed plane had involved Cameroon, Australia, the United States, and Canada, and had included four aircraft, although operations had been disrupted by fog.

Sundance said that they had halted all African operations in the wake of the crash, which led to the cessation of trading the company’s shares and the appointment of an acting CEO, the firm’s Chief Financial Officer Peter Canterbury. Another Sundance official said that although significant, the crash would not “mortally wound” the company.



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November 8, 2009

Thousands flee violence in northern Democratic Republic of the Congo

Thousands flee violence in northern Democratic Republic of the Congo

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
Other stories from the DRC
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Location of Democratic Republic of the Congo

A map showing the location of the DRC

To write, edit, start or view other articles on DRC, visit the DRC Portal
Flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.svg

Democratic Republic of the Congo
Image: Rei-artur.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports more than 16,000 civilians have fled ethnic violence in the northern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The UNHCR says the refugees crossed the Oubangui River into neighboring Republic of Congo to find safety after their villages were burned.

The UN refugee agency reported that the mass exodus from the DRC’s remote Equateur Province took place last week. It says ethnic clashes broke out between the Enyele and Munzaya tribes over farming and fishing rights in the village of Dongo.

UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic said that 60 people were killed, and the deadly fighting spread to surrounding villages, several of which were burned. He says 40 other people were seriously injured and some are being treated in hospital.

“The 16,000 DRC asylum seekers—who are mainly Munzayas—are staying in public buildings or with host communities across 11 villages alongside the Oubangui River,” he said.

“A UNHCR team is now visiting them and our initial assessment is that they need proper shelter, food and household items such as blankets, kitchen sets and jerry cans. Since a thorough assessment is made, we will work together with the government to help them. Some are also in need of medical care, but an over-stretched mobile clinic run by a UNHCR partner cannot cope with all their needs at the moment,” he added.

The first clashes between the Enyele and Munzaya occurred in March. More than 200 houses were burned in the village of Munzaya, and more than 1,200 residents fled to safety in the Republic of Congo.

Mahecic reported that the UNHCR is very concerned about the intensity of the violence and its spread to nearby villages. He says the villages have been virtually emptied of their inhabitants.

He says this latest violence, which is taking place in the west of the DRC is unrelated to fighting going on in the east, which has displaced 1.7 million people within the country.

Before the current influx, the UNHCR spokesman said the Republic of Congo already was hosting some 9,000 refugees from the DRC who had previously fled there to escape civil war in their country.

According to Mahecic, when the DRC’s civil war formally ended in 2003, large numbers of refugees returned home. But, he says this last group of 9,000 refugees does not want to return to the homes they fled in the DRC. They say they wish to settle permanently in the Republic of Congo.



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March 4, 2009

Scientists say study proves chimps create termite gathering tools

Scientists say study proves chimps create termite gathering tools

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Map highlighting location of the Congo in Africa.
Image: Vardion.

Researchers say that a study of chimpanzees in the Republic of the Congo in Africa, show that they specifically create and design tools to catch termites living underground. The study was performed in the Nouabale-Ndoki National Park in the Congo in an area known as the Goualougo Triangle. The study was published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

Dr. Crickette Sanz, the leader of the team who filmed the chimps crafting “fishing rod” type tools, says that they have “invented” ways of “improving their termite-fishing technique” by using a stick from a plant called the Marantaceae. They pick off the leaves and then create and place a brush like object on the end. Doing so improved the number of termites they catch, by more than 10 times.

“They then pulled the herb stems through their teeth, which were partially closed, to make the brush and they also attended to the brush by sometimes pulling apart the fibres to make them better at gathering the termites,” stated Sanz to the BBC.

Researchers are aware that chimps have used similar methods in the past, but it was not fully known if the tools they used were designed specifically for the task of gathering the insects. Of all the tools the chimps left behind and recovered by Sanz’s team, 80% were custom made by their owners. Sanz says the new study has determined that their methods have since evolved, proving previous hypotheses.

“Our results indicate that chimpanzees have a mental template of the tool form, which is employed in crafting the tool prior to use and refining it during use,” Sanz said.

Sanz also says that because of Africa’s vastness, much of it is still unstudied leaving him to suggest other species of chimps and apes use complex tools to gather food.

“Just as we are learning about these exciting new complex tool behaviours, the chimps that are showing us these behaviours are under danger from logging, poaching and Ebola,” added Sanz. The triangle is a host to a variety of endangered or threatened animals including gorillas and elephants.



Sources

Wikipedia Learn more about the Goualougo Triangle on Wikipedia.
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September 3, 2008

UN aid plane crashs kills 17 in Congo

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Other stories from Democratic Republic of the Congo
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Location of Democratic Republic of the Congo

A map showing the location of Democratic Republic of the Congo

To write, edit, start or view other articles on Democratic Republic of the Congo, see the Democratic Republic of the Congo Portal
Portal:Democratic Republic of the Congo

A Beechcraft 1900, similar to the one involved in the crash Image: Adrian Pingstone.

A Beechcraft 1900, similar to the one involved in the crash
Image: Adrian Pingstone.

A United Nations (UN) aid plane in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has crashed, killing all seventeen passengers on board, according to a source from the UN. According to the spokesperson “The plane was found 15 kilometres (eight miles) northwest of Bukavu airport. There were 15 passengers and two crew on board.”

Air Serv International, the operator of the aircraft, said that it did not believe there to be any survivors They also said in the statement that “the staff of Air Serv International express their condolences and deepest sympathy to the families of the passengers and crew.”

The UN has identified the victims as a Canadian member of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), an Indian who worked for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid, two members of Medecins Sans Frontiers, one from France and one from the Republic of Congo.

The other thirteen were citizens of the DRC. Two were employees of Air Serv and were the crew. Four were with the UNDP and another four were civil servants, while the last three worked for Handicap International.

The UN spokesperson also said that “the helicopter landed far away [from the wreckage] and the search and rescue team headed to the site on foot.”

The plane was on a journey from Kinshasa to Goma, with stops at Mbandaka, Kisangani and Bukavu.

Air crashes are common in the DRC and, as a result, Congolese airliners are banned from flying in the airspace of countries in the European Union.


Sources

  • AFP “UN confirms 17 killed in crash of DRCongo aid plane”. MONUC, September 3, 2008
  • IRIN “Congo-Kinshasa: 15 Aid Workers, Two Crew Killed in Plane Crash Near Bukavu”. AllAfrica, September 2, 2008
  • “Aid plane crashes into mountain in DRCongo: UN”. Agence France-Presse, September 2, 2008
  • Press Release: “Recovery Mission Underway – 020908 DRC”. Air Serv International, September 2, 2008
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UN aid plane crash kills 17 in Democratic Republic of the Congo

UN aid plane crash kills 17 in Democratic Republic of the Congo

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
Other stories from the DRC
…More articles here
Location of Democratic Republic of the Congo

A map showing the location of the DRC

To write, edit, start or view other articles on DRC, visit the DRC Portal
Flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.svg

A Beechcraft 1900, similar to the one involved in the crash
Image: Adrian Pingstone.

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A United Nations (UN) aid plane in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has crashed, killing all seventeen passengers on board. According to a spokesperson for the organisation “The plane was found 15 kilometres (eight miles) northwest of Bukavu airport. There were 15 passengers and two crew on board.”

Air Serv International, the operator of the aircraft, said that it did not believe there to be any survivors. They also said in the statement that “the staff of Air Serv International express their condolences and deepest sympathy to the families of the passengers and crew.”

The UN has identified the victims as a Canadian member of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), an Indian who worked for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid, two members of Medecins Sans Frontiers, one from France and one from the Republic of Congo.

The other thirteen were citizens of the DRC. Two were employees of Air Serv and were the crew. Four were with the UNDP and another four were civil servants, while the last three worked for Handicap International.

The UN spokesperson also said that “the helicopter landed far away [from the wreckage] and the search and rescue team headed to the site on foot.”

The plane was on a journey from Kinshasa to Goma, with stops at Mbandaka, Kisangani and Bukavu.

Air crashes are common in the DRC and, as a result, Congolese airliners are banned from flying in the airspace of countries in the European Union.



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August 5, 2008

Wikinews Shorts: August 5, 2008

Wikinews Shorts: August 5, 2008 – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikinews Shorts: August 5, 2008

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A compilation of brief news reports for Tuesday, August 5, 2008.

Help Wikinews! Contribute to Wikinews by expanding these briefs or add a new one.

Known gorilla population more than doubled

Male western lowland gorilla

125,000 western lowland gorillas have been found in isolated forests of the Republic of Congo, according to a census by the Wildlife Conservation Society. The number more than doubles the present estimated population of 50-100 thousand. The population resides in two areas covering just 18,000 square miles, living in densities previously thought to be not possible.

President of the Wildlife Conservation Society, Steve Sanderson, says that this does not mean the gorillas are out of danger and they are still vulnerable to Ebola and humans, who target them for bush meat.

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NBA: Paul Pierce handcuffed in Las Vegas

Paul Pierce #34

Boston Celtics player Paul Pierce, the MVP of the 2008 NBA Finals, was handcuffed by police in Las Vegas, Nevada about 3:00 a.m. Sunday during a traffic stop. A spokesman for the Las Vegas Police Department said that was initially hostile, though didn’t say that this was the cause for the handcuffs. Multiple news agencies that report that Pierce passed both a sobriety test and a Breathalyzer. Neither Pierce nor the Celtics have released a comment.

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Woman throws lasagna at husband

Lasagna

A woman threw a frozen lasagna at her husband. This happened in Atlantic Beach, Florida. The woman has been charged with domestic battery after throwing frozen lasagna at her husband. The two were arguing when she picked up the frozen lasagna and tossed it at her husband striking him. The husband said his wife struck him across the face many times before throwing the frozen lasagna at him hitting him in the head. The woman admitted to officers that she had thrown the frozen lasagna at her husband to hit him in the head. The husband was arrested for a violation of a court injunction.

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Police rescue two swimmers in Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan

Two people have been saved from Lake Michigan said Evanston Police in Illinois. Four officers saved the two people from the lake. This happened late Sunday. One officer had swallowed too much water and has been treated at a local hospital police had said on Monday. At Lee Street Beach at 11:57 p.m. close to midnight. Police could hear people yelling for help around the metal breakwater police had said. Police could not see the swimmers due to how dark it was outside. As police went into the water with rescue disks to try and save the people from the water. Officers then found a man that was 50 yards off shore that had been taken into the breakwater by the large waves said police. Police then threw a rescue disk towards his direction and the man grabbed on and was pulled safely to shore, also another women was rescued.

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World’s smallest snake discovered in Barbados

Leptotyphlops carlae
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Leptotyphlops carlae

The world’s smallest snake, the Leptotyphlops carlae, has been discovered in Barbados by Dr Blair Hedges, an evolutionary scientist from Pennsylvania State University. The Leptotyphlops carlae is the smallest of the 3100 known species of snakes. The species is thinner than a piece of spaghetti and is about 10cm long, small enough to curl up on a United States quarter.

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May 24, 2005

Ebola outbreak in Congo

Ebola outbreak in Congo – Wikinews, the free news source

Ebola outbreak in Congo

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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

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Reuters reports that nine people have died from Ebola in the Republic of Congo this month. The outbreak is in the Cuvette-Ouest region near the Gabon border, where a previous outbreak occurred in 2003.

The government of Congo and the United Nations World Health Organization have announced a quarantine of the Etoumbi and Mbomo districts. They are monitoring 84 suspected cases in the two regions. Jean-Vivien Mombouli, adviser to the Congolese Ministry of Health, pointed out the individuals may not actually have the virus; only one confirmed case of Ebola has been diagnosed thus far.

“We will wait for 21 days just to be sure then after that, if the person does not get sick, he is out of danger,” Mr. Mombouli said of the patients. Ebola has a five to ten day incubation period.

Neighbouring Uganda has stepped up its surveillance in response to the outbreak.

No cure exists for Ebola, and between 50-90% of those who contract it die. Zaire/Congo has sustained the largest number, and most severe, outbreaks of the Ebola virus. Although no cure exists, work continues on a vaccine and it is in the human trial stages, as well as research into pharmaceutical treatments.

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