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Monday, March 5, 2012

Disaster in Congo

Brazzaville- Republic of Congo
As chronicled last year in my article Hell in Congo few places on earth compare to the Democratic Republic of Congo in terms of its atrocious poverty and standards of living. The nation still feels the effects of a War which is said to have ended in 2003 which claimed the lives of more the 4.5million people, the largest death toll in a single war since World War 2.

However, today's post concerns the neighbour of the DRC the Republic of Congo. While the DRC or Democratic Republic of Congo was once a Belgian colony, the Republic of Congoonce belonged to the French and achieved its independence in 1960.

Since that time the region was frought with coup d'états and civil wars which have upset the democratic process and killed thousands of civilians. However, since the ending of a civil war in 1997 the region has remained largely peaceful under the control of President Sassou-Nguesso took power following the civil war.Allegations of voter fraud and the omnipresent threat of violence in the country make life in Congo uneasy.

The country made the news yesterday for an explosion in the capital Brazzaville which took 200 lives andinjured hundreds more. The Defence Minister moved quick to quell rumours of unrest in the city and stated the blast was caused by a fire in a military base in the riverside settlement of Mpila. This quarter of the city, it is claimed, has been largely destroyed.

While pictures emerged of the damage and the TV stations showed panic-stricken residents fearing more unrest, reports came in of worried residents across the Congo River in the DRC  whose windowswere shattered by the sheer force of the blast 4km away. Th final death toll is yet to be confirmed but it is speculated as many as 1,500 people were injured.

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