IDF delegation heads to Equatorial Guinea after explosions

The delegation of about 60 doctors, nurses and paramedics will help provide life-saving medical care in Bata's hospitals.

IDF humanitarian aid mission to Equatorial Guinea (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
IDF humanitarian aid mission to Equatorial Guinea
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
The IDF, Health Ministry and Foreign Ministry sent a humanitarian aid mission to Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday after hundreds were injured and over a hundred people were killed in explosions at a military barracks in the city of Bata on Sunday.
The IDF's Medical Corps accepted responsibility for the delegation, the first time it's had responsibility of such a delegation since 1999. The Corps extensively prepared for the delegation, including by establishing two medical teams with professionals from all relevant fields and ancillary medical equipment.
The delegation, headed by Deputy Chief Medical Officer Colonel Dr. Noam Fink, will help provide life-saving medical care in Bata's hospitals. Some 60 doctors, nurses and MDA paramedics will serve in the delegation.
"The IDF, the Health Ministry and the Foreign Ministry will continue to assist on behalf of the State of Israel in any disaster in which it may be required, and will contribute its experience and capabilities around the world," said the IDF Spokesperson's Unit.
Three days on, residents of Bata are still coming to grips with the full scale of a tragedy that has killed at least 105 people and injured more than 600 others.
Drone footage aired on state television showed block after block of public housing in the coastal city either completely destroyed or close to it, the remnants of their roofs and walls strewn across the neighborhood's dirt roads.
"There are many children without parents," said a teacher in Bata, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals from the authorities in the tightly-controlled central African country. "In the long (term) what do we do with those children?"
The reclusive government blamed the explosions on fires set by farmers living near the military base and the negligent handling of dynamite stocks by the military unit guarding them.
It has decreed three days of national mourning from Wednesday, declared Bata a catastrophe zone, unblocked 10 billion ($18.19 million) CFA francs for the response and appealed for international aid.
Firefighters continued to comb the rubble on Wednesday for bodies as onlookers wept, state television showed. The authorities appealed for donations of blood and basic goods.
Alfredo Okenve, a human rights activist who lives in exile in Europe, said his information indicated the number of deaths was between 150 and 200, significantly higher than the government's official toll of 105.
The former Spanish colony has been run by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, Africa's longest-serving leader, since 1979.
It is the Central African country's worst tragedy in recent memory, and while the government, charitable organizations and private citizens have kept everyone fed and sheltered for now, most of Equatorial Guinea's 1.4 million people live in poverty.
The country is also suffering a double economic shock from the coronavirus pandemic and a drop in the price of crude oil, which provides about three-fourths of state revenue.