As many as 20 people have been killed after a series of large explosions at a military base in the city of Bata in Equatorial Guinea.
More than 600 people were also injured in the explosions at the military barracks in the Mondong Nkuantoma neighbourhood.
In a statement on national television, President Teodoro Obiang said the blasts were caused by “negligent handling of dynamite” at the base.
The defence ministry released a statement late on Sunday saying that a fire at a weapons depot in the barracks caused an explosion of high-calibre ammunition.
State television showed a huge plume of smoke rising above the explosion site as crowds fled, with many people crying out “we don’t know what happened, but it is all destroyed”.
The health ministry said medics treated the injured at the site, but it is feared people are missing under the rubble.
The TVGE news channel called on people to donate blood and said hospitals in the Central African nation were full of people injured in the explosions.
There were some discrepancies with the death toll, with TVGE reporting 20 dead, a health ministry tweet saying 17 were killed and the president’s statement mentioning 15.
A doctor calling into TVGE, who went by his first name, Florentino, said the situation was a “moment of crisis” and that hospitals were overcrowded.
He said a sports centre set up for COVID-19 patients would be used to receive minor cases.
The radio station, Radio Macuto, said that people were being evacuated within 4km of the city because the fumes might be harmful.
Footage from the scene shows firefighters responding to people on the street and destroyed buildings.
Trucks filled with survivors, many of whom were children, drove up to the front of a local hospital where some victims were filmed lying on the floor.
In the blast area, iron rooves were ripped off houses and lay twisted amid the rubble.
“The impact of the explosion caused damage in almost all the houses and buildings in Bata,” the president said in his statement.
Bata has roughly 175,000 inhabitants.