Malabo — "To the families of all those who have lost their loved ones, we the Catholic Bishops of Africa express our heartfelt sympathy. To all the wounded and those affected in any way by the explosions, we express our spiritual closeness and solidarity with you", says a note sent to Agenzia Fides by the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) on the series of explosion that shocked Bata on Sunday, 7 March, the economic capital of Equatorial Guinea and the most populous city in the country (see Fides, 8/3/2021).
SECAM members say they are "deeply saddened" by "the tragic and deplorable situation" caused by the tragedy "aggravated by the current coronavirus pandemic".
According to the latest reports, in the series of explosions that occurred in the Enkoantoma military barracks in Bata 105 people lost their lives and 615 were injured, of whom 482 were discharged from the hospitals of the city, which has just over 250,000 inhabitants.
"Moments like this raise doubts about God's omnipotence and omnipresence, especially, for those in the grip of anguish and sorrow", says SECAM's Message. "But as we read from Psalm 34:18: "The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and helps those whose spirit is crushed".
"We invite Church and civil organizations and all people of goodwill in Africa and beyond to come to the assistance of our brothers and sisters in Equatorial Guinea", ask the Bishops of SECAM.
"Dear brothers and sisters in Equatorial Guinea, be assured that the Church-Family-of God in Africa is close to you and carries you in her daily prayers and addresses supplications to Jesus Christ to comfort and strengthen you. Look up to God with hope; he suffers with you and has not abandoned you. Courage! May the Virgin Mary, Queen of Africa, ensure the maternal protection for her children!" concludes the Message.
Various countries have sent rescue teams and aid to Bata, including Spain, Venezuela, Israel and France. It is not excluded that the rescue services find other victims at the epicenter of the explosions, which destroyed the powder magazine of the barracks and destroyed more than 100 houses.