Series of large explosions kills at least 200 people in Brazzaville and shatters windows across the Congo river in Kinshasa At least 200 people have been killed and many more injured in a series of explosions in the capital of Congo-Brazzaville, according to a senior presidency official. "According to sources at the central hospital we're talking of around 200 dead and many injured," said Betu Bangana, the head of protocol in the president's office in Brazzaville. The blasts took place on Sunday after a fire started in an arms depot at a military base. Panic spread from Brazzaville across the Congo river to Kinshasa, where windows were shattered by the force of the blasts. The river separates the former French colony of Congo-Brazzaville from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Both governments called for calm and there was no immediate suspicion of anything but an accident. Congo-Brazzaville is one of sub-SaharanAfrica's top oil producers. State radio quoted the country's defence minister, Charles Zacharie Bowao, as saying the explosions had been caused by a fire in the arms depot in the Regiment Blinde base in the riverside Mpila neighbourhood. China's Xinhua news agency cited Chinese officials as saying three Chinese workers had been killed and dozens injured in the explosion. A witness in Brazzaville said residents had fled the area, which was sealed off by the security forces as a military helicopter flew overhead. Fleeing residents said houses had been flattened. "I saw someone being carried to hospital with their intestines hanging out. They had been hit by a shell," one witness said as he was leaving the area. Television images showed panic-stricken people on the streets of neighbourhoods near the site of the explosions, and injured people being rushed to hospital or being given first aid on the streets. There were also pictures of crowded hospitals where doctors said they were selecting those who were seriously injured to have immediate surgery. Health authorities appealed for all medical personnel living in Brazzaville to rush to the city's hospitals. A mass in Brazzaville's cathedral, about 2.5 miles away, was cut short as the building shook. "I heard at least five or six good-sized explosions, which blew out the windows and brought down half the ceiling in our hotel," said Patrick Mair, an analyst with Control Risks in Brazzaville. The main blasts were followed by a series of smaller ones. Hours after the main explosions, a plume of grey smoke still hung over the city, a witness in Kinshasa said. Congo-Brazzaville has suffered coups and a civil war since it gained independence from France in 1960. It has been mostly peaceful, however, since President Denis Sassou-Nguesso took power in a 1997 coup.