Memorial ceremony for the victims touches everyone – continuing treatment of patients

by Katja Völkl/RBU, 2012/03/13

According to the latest estimates, the series of severe explosions that occurred on March 4 of this year, claimed the lives of 250 persons. One week after the disaster, 250 families who are mourning for their loved ones took leave of their dead. Our media coordinator Katja Völkl reports of this terrible and tragic day from Brazzaville.

“Already early in the morning, every TV in the hotel is switched on. And the same images are shown everywhere: politicians holding speeches of condolence. Mourning people and coffins decorated with flowers. Also the personnel in the lobby of our accommodation are wearing black today. Sympathy with the victims is great in the city.

“Everyone here in Brazzaville expresses great sympathy”, describes Katja Völkl. The memorial ceremonies in commemoration of the victims of the explosion took place one week after the disaster. Photo: humedica/Katja Völkl

In front of our building, there are several heavily armed soldiers. Also on our way we encounter road blocks again and again. Helicopters are circling above the city and police and military vehicles are racing through the streets with howling sirens. This terrible day is marked by an oppressive atmosphere.

On our way to the airport, we can make out a large group of people in the distance, who have assembled at a public square. We are collecting our colleagues Dr. Annette Frick and Dr. Norman Hecker, who will complement our team, and the remaining medical equipment at the airport.

Due to the two additional persons and the numerous transport containers that contain medical equipment, surgical instruments and drugs, Dr. Phillip Fischer and I return by taxi. We follow the minibus at some distance.

We reach a road block that is guarded by soldiers. They allow the minibus in front of us to pass, but then our way is blocked by a soldier. Our taxi driver leads a discussion with the soldier. In the end, we too are waved through and can drive to our accommodation in order to leave our luggage there.

There we also meet Dr. Emmanuel Goma Foutou. Since the arrival of our team, he has been advising and supporting us with the organisation of our relief measures. Dr. Foutou attended the funeral and the memorial ceremony for the 200 persons.

The number of victims is substantially higher, but not all of them have been identified yet”, says the Congolese doctor. All leading personalities and delegations of the country and of neighbouring countries had been present, as had the families of the victims, citizens of the city and church dignitaries.

The ceremony was marked by a very quiet and sad atmosphere”, describes Dr. Foutou. “But it also was very touching to experience the sympathy and solidarity everyone showed towards the affected families.

Prof. Dr. Dr. Bern Domres is an experienced relief doctor and is active at a hospital together with the humedica team. The team mostly treats fractures and severe burns. Photo: humedica/Katja Völkl

I asked him why we had seen so many soldiers and he explained that there had been a substantial safety risk, because the explosion had occurred within a military zone and also the number of casualties had been highest there. Therefore, also the armed forced wanted to express their great sympathy.”

There is nothing we can do for those persons who lost their lives during this incredibly terrible disaster. However, we can offer medical help to thousands of injured people.

humedica doctors have taken over the running of a hospital in the borough of Makalekele, and there they treat fractures and severe burns. In particularly serious cases they need to amputate limbs of patients who have sustained acute contusions caused by rubble of collapsing buildings, which would threaten the lives of the patients if the doctors did not take this drastic measure.

These first relief measures could be implemented thanks to the support of the German Federal Foreign Office. However, for the further operation of the hospital, we depend on your support, dear friends and sponsors. Please help us to offer medical treatment to those affected in the Republic of Congo by means of your donations.

      humedica e. V.
      Donation reference “Disaster Congo
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren
      IBAN: DE35734500000000004747

You can also make a contribution to our relief efforts by means of sending a text message: send a text message containing the reference DOC to +49 8 11 90 and make a contribution of 5 euros, with 4.83 euros of this amount being directly channelled into the relief measures in Congo. Thank you very much!

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