Mass funeral for victims of Congo munitions
Brazzaville: Thousands of people
on Sunday attended a memorial service for the 200 victims of last
weekend's munitions dump blasts in the Congo capital, which
also injured 2,300 and left 14,000 homeless.
Relatives of the victims took their places in six white
tents opposite a pavilion for officials erected on the
esplanade outside the Congress Centre in the capital.
The coffins draped in the national flag arrived shortly
after 11 am (1000 GMT) transported 10 at a time on lorry
Families of the victims were in tears, some clutching
photos of their dead relatives and crosses bearing their date
of birth and death, last Sunday March 4.
On the other side of the avenue separating the esplanade
from the foreign ministry building, thousands of people,
mostly in black or white, stood behind barriers put up for the
ceremony. There were too many people to all find places in the
tents in the red, green and yellow of the national flag.
According to the programme, Congolese President Denis
Sassou was due to place a wreath before an ecumenical service
and the reading of a funeral oration by the minister of social
The coffins were then due to be taken to the city's main
cemetery for burial, where special burial chambers have been
dug to receive them.
Today's memorial service marked the end of the official
period of national mourning decreed last Tuesday.
Last Sunday's blasts, blamed on a short-circuit and fire,
destroyed hundreds of homes around the depot. The homeless are
being sheltered in reception centres while nearly 300 of the
injured are still in hospital.