GARDEN VALLEY, TX, 16 March 2012 – Mercy Ships has teamed up with the German disaster response organization Humedica to assist with critically needed surgical and medical support following a catastrophic explosion in an African weapons depot in the Republic of Congo, also known as Congo-Brazzaville.
The explosion occurred the first week of March in the capital city of Brazzaville. Initial reports estimate more than 200 are dead, approximately 2300 people are wounded, and thousands more are left homeless.
Local news reported that the series of explosions was so powerful that shocks caused neighboring buildings to fall to the ground, and windows were blown out in neighboring Kinshasa, on the other side of the Congo River.
According to official figures, an electrical short circuit triggered the huge explosion. Mercy Ships President/Founder Don Stephens and Swiss governmental liaison Pierre Christ were in the city just days after the explosion, meeting with President Denis Sassou Nguesso, members of the Ministry of Health, and other government officials regarding a future involvement of Mercy Ships within the nation.
“Upon learning of the explosion, I phoned Wolfgang Gross, Chairman of Humedica and Chairman of Mercy Ships Germany, with a request that Humedica consider sending emergency medical teams, as this fits their core competency of emergency response. The Berlin government responded by funding €50,000 for the initial team. This is a good example of organizational collaboration on an international scale,” said Stephens.
Mercy Ships volunteer anesthetist Dr. Annette Frick of Balingen, Germany, has joined a Humedica team of seven experienced physicians and surgeons. The team left from Germany just days after the explosion, and they are working alongside local social workers and doctors from Medecins Sans Frontieres and the Red Cross to carry out surgeries and wound care. The European team was sent with medical supplies for the initial treatment of 3000 patients.