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Congo Waits on Rescue Efforts

On Wednesday, crowds gathered at morgues and hospitals in Mpila, Congo to identify loved ones who died in Sunday’s blasts. The damage was caused by an accidental fire at an arms depot setting off explosions that have killed at least 250 people. Although Defense Minister Charles Zacharie Bowao took to airwaves to assure that it was not a terrorist attack, there still has been no coordinated rescue efforts by the government. As more time passes, the death toll will continue to increase from people not being pulled from the rubble of homes, churches, businesses, and government buildings.

The Red Cross was barred from entering the blast zone because of the risk of another explosion, and the government issued a national period of mourning until the victims are buried. Curfew has been imposed, school has been cancelled, and the country is at a standstill waiting on a coordinated effort from the government. “The only rescue effort was by the people who lived here themselves, and who came back and dug out the bodies of their loved ones,” said an army captain who accompanied a team of reporters inside the roped-off disaster area. “I doubt that anyone is still alive, but if they are, they’ll need to wait until we put out the fire, because it’s too dangerous. There are still unexploded bombs,” he said.

How can fragile countries prepare for such disasters without having a proactive government? Should the U.S. or the U.N. step in?

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