Fire engulfs large ammunition dump in Chad
Fire engulfs large ammunition dump in Chad
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Fatalities recorded after fire engulfs large ammunition dump in Chad

People have been killed and injured after an enormous series of explosions destroyed the main military ammunition depot in Chad. 

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The government has urged people to remain calm after the blasts last night, believed to have been started by a fire at the site. 

Videos on social media showed dramatic explosions at the depot, which is located close to the main airport in Chad's capital N’Djamena.

A huge fire broke out at an ammunition depot in Chad, causing major explosions that lit up the sky for about half an hour overnight.

Foreign Minister Abderaman Koulamallah said the blaze happened at a military depot in the Goudji area of the capital, N'Djamena.

He told French media the cause of the fire was accidental and while the death toll had yet to be established, there were “fewer deaths” than had been feared.

Video footage showed blasts lighting up the night sky, with witnesses saying they could be heard miles away.

The weapons depot in Goudji is the country’s main arsenal and is in the north of the city near the military headquarters, a French army base and the airport. There are also numerous residential houses in the neighbourhood.

"We were expecting dozens and dozens of deaths. In the end, the collateral damage isn't very big," Mr Koulamallah, who is also the government’s spokesman, told the AFP news agency.

"There aren't many civilians who lost their lives,” he said.

A resident told the Reuters news agency that he saw three wounded people on the street, while another said his neighbour was killed.

"Loud blasts woke us up," Moustapha Adoum Mahamat said." "Our house was shaking as if someone were shooting at us. Then we saw a big fire at the military camp and smoke and things exploding in the air," he said.

"We could see artillery fly over us."

According to an official working with the French forces, there were “explosions of ammunition of all calibres".

"For the moment, no French military personnel have been wounded,” the official, who requested anonymity, told AFP.

President Mahamat Idriss Déby ordered an investigation into the fire and sent his condolences to the victims and their families, without specifying the number of casualties.

"Peace to the souls of the victims, sincere condolences to the grieving families and a speedy recovery to the wounded,” he posted on Facebook after midnight.

Mr Koulamallah, who had urged the public to remain calm in the immediate aftermath of the explosions, said an initial inspection suggested several people had been killed in the ammunition storeroom.

"The soldiers had time to evacuate the vehicles, heavy weapons etc and were able themselves to take shelter," he told AFP.

France currently has about 1,000 troops in Chad to fight jihadist groups across West Africa.

Chadian troops have also played a vital role in battling Islamist militants in the region.

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