Accidents 2011

5 Jan 2011- USA

110105-04-A Oakland, TN. Kinematics Research. One person was killed and another injured in an explosion around 13:45 at Kinematics Research, an ammunition plant. Witnesses said debris shot into the air during several explosions spanning a half-hour. Fire crews could not get close to the building because of the danger. One fire-fighter was slightly injured.

Investigators believed the incident may have started in a packing area at the facility, but they were not sure what caused it. Kinematics, which has been in business since 1992, makes new and remanufactured ammunition for pistols and rifles. The plant is in a collection of industrial buildings, which were evacuated after the explosion. No homes are nearby.

On January 6, investigators said they knew where the fire started, but did not know how it started or if it could have been prevented. Oakland Fire Chief Rudy Doyle said: “ An explosion occurred in a powder feeding mechanism, which in turn ignited nearby combustibles and ammunition manufacturing components. Because we don’t know the ignition source, there’s no way to say for sure if it could have been prevented".

State Representative Barrett Rich, who represents the Oakland area, said: “It really makes you think, are we doing what we need to be doing to make sure this doesn’t happen again?”  Rep. Rich said he plans to meet face to face with Tennessee OSHA (TOSHA) "to find out places like Kinematics Research don’t have mandatory inspections". Rich said: "I want to know why OSHA or TOSHA wouldn’t have looked at any facility that is using volatile materals. I know that they seem to what to regulate everything else.  I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t have already inspected a facility like this". A spokesman for TOSHA said there is no law requiring safety inspections for businesses, no matter what the business manufactures.

20 Jan 2011 - Germany

110120-05-A Leverkusen, Nordrhein-Westfalen. Novasep (formerly Dynamit Nobel).  Two persons were seriously injured in an explosion around 15:45 in a warehouse.  The two employees were moving a pack of a waste product, which consisted largely of sodium chloride, from tonne containers, when the accident occurred.  Spokesman Abrecht Schwerin said the product contained a substance that reacts violently with moisture.

Fire department spokesman Wolfgang Fröhle, said damage was limited. Plexiglas windows in the open hall were damaged and had been torn from their moorings, but there was no fire. Fröhle said: “We have just closed off a large area of the accident".  In addition, measurements showed that no contaminants had been left by the explsion, and no danger existed for residents or the environment. Also, production operations on the 80 hectare site was not affected.

On January 22, it was announced that the injuries of the two employees were apparently not as bad as feared at first. Schwerin, said: “One of the two employees could leave the hospital on the evening".  The other was still hpitalized, but he had not broken anything or suffered internal injuries. However, both employees would suffer ipairment of hearing.

23 Jan 2011 - India

110123-02 Mattewara, Punjab. Four Indian Army soldiers were injured when an explosive they were taking to a dump to defuse exploded. According to defence officials, the injured soldiers were immediately moved to a nearby hospital for treatment. Three were discharged after first aid, but one soldier was transferred to a hospital in Jalandhar city. According to information, the bomb disposal squad was re-checking the defused scrap before winding up the operation. A team of four sappers was checking a heap of scrap when the remains of a bomb exploded in the hands of Sapper F P Khan.

The operation to defuse munitions, called ‘Operation Saiyam’ (patience), was started by the army on November 10, 2010, to destroy around 17,000 munitions of unknown origin. Authorities had discovered the dangerous scrap at the dry port in Punjab’s industrial hub Ludhiana, 110 km from Chandigarh, in 2004 but it took them nearly six years to start the process of destroying it. The demolition operation, the biggest one of its kind undertaken by the army, was to be completed in three months.

30 Jan 2011 - Venezuela

110130-01-B Maracay, state of Aragua, 130 km (81 miles) west of Caracas. Compañía Anónima Venezolana de Industrias Militares (CAVIM). At least one person died in a series of explosions followed by fires at a munitions plant in central Venezuela. The incident occurred about 04:30.

Vice President Elias Jaua told reporters that no theory about the cause of the explosions can be ruled out at this time because Venezuela is a country “threatened from abroad” and within its territory there exist “groups that act in an insane manner”, adding: “If it was an accident, we will explain that to the country, but if it was due to another of the hypotheses, the country will also learn of that".  The Vice President said that a 26-year old man died in the incident, but he did not identify the victim or specify how he had died. Later in the day, however, President Hugo Chavez said that the person who died was a woman named Evelyn Marrero, a mother of three who worked at an Aragua government radio station.

Among the munitions stored at the site were 155 mm, 106 mm, and 105 mm artillery shells, 80 mm mortar rounds, and ammunition for 7.62 mm assault rifles. The 10,000 people who were evacuated as a precaution from the neighbourhoods near the burning military installation were being housed in shelters in Maracay, where they were receiving food and other necessities. According to local media, residents panicked, and received no information as

to what was happening for several hours. Those evacuated reportedly did not receive drinking water, food, diapers, mattresses and other requisites until noon, though medical aid was available almost immediately. There were reports of looting in several areas of the city.

On February 2, the Cuerpo de Investigaciones Científicas Penales y Criminalísticas (CICPC – Body of Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigations) began an investigation to determine the causes that led to the explosions at CAVIM.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C50A1upBdDc&NR=1

3 Feb 2011 - India

110203-10 Kochi, Kerala. A major explosion occurred in the heart of the city when the explosives warehouse at Siva temple caught fire and exploded. An employee of the warehouse was injured in the accident, which occurred around 10:00. He was immediately rushed to the Medical Trust Hospital. Police said fire tenders from Gandhi Nagar unit were immediately sent to douse the flames: “The entire concrete building collapsed due to the intensity of the explosion. Though there were three persons standing close to the shed when the explosion occurred, only one suffered injuries in the accident.”

Police launched an investigation into the cause of the explosion. According to the preliminary investigation, there was no short circuit or other related factors to trigger the fire. Police will ascertain whether there was gunpowder above the permissible limits in the warehouse.

11 Feb 2011 - Romania

110211-03 Bumbesti Jiu, Gorj County, 230 km (144 miles) west of Bucharest. Sadu Mechanical Plant. Two women died and a man was wounded in an explosion at an arms factory in southern Romania. A representatives of the Gorj Inspectorate for Emergency Situations said there was an explosion followed by fire.

Established in 1939, Sadu Mechanical Plant produces infantry ammunition, infantry weapons, and components for the initiation of pyrotechnic elements. According to the tax authority ANAF, the ailing business is currently deep in debt to the state, and was last year’s top borrower in Gorj County.

16 Feb 2011 -Tanzania

110216-07-A Dar-es-Salaam. At least 21 people were killed in explosions after an accident around 21:00 at the Mbagala army base near Tanzania’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam. Multiple explosions from various arms depots lasted several hours at the Gongola Mboto military base.

The Julius Nyerere International Airport was reported to have been closed, and there were unconfirmed reports that the national civil aviation authority was diverting flights to other airports nearby.

Debris was hurled across the city and army chief of staff Gen Abdurahman Shimbo said 32 people had died, most of them residents in neighbouring areas. Earlier, Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda said 17 bodies had been recovered. Mr Pinda said the explosions had started in one arms depot before spreading to others in the camp. By the morning of February 17, 23 munitions depots had been destroyed, along with two residential houses and a secondary school.

A similar incident in April 2009 at the Mbagala army base killed more than 20 people, including five army officers, and injured over 150. [See HInt 09-04b, 090429-02.]

On February 18, Chief of Defence Intelligence Brigadier General Paul Mella said “cost implications” arising from slim government budget were one of the main reasons hindering relocation of some military bases and ammunition from Dar es Salaam to other areas of the country. Brig. General Paul Mella said that the army had been routinely moving some military wares and munitions from the city to other places, but budget constraints was one of the reasons slowing the exercise. He said the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF) has plans of building more underground silos for weapons and munitions storage.

Earlier Brig. General Mella dismissed speculations that the explosion was caused by power interruptions, lack of expert military personnel to man the warehouses or negligence. Responding to public pressure that Defence and National Service minister and Chief of Defence Forces should take responsibility by resigning, he said there was no possibility for any head to roll. He said those calling for the resignations of the top brass in the Defence ministry were not conversant with the National Defence Act No. 24 of 1976, noting: “We are not civil servants or employees of corporate entities. Our engagement is based on the NDA system and there is no clause or section which states that military officers should resign in case of incidents like the one that happened at Gongo la Mboto.”

He said though there had been a series of bomb explosions: 2005, 2009 and that of Wednesday, the public should not judge the army only on the basis of the incidents, claiming: “We have built railways, rescued people during disasters, while always guarding the nation. You should also judge us on the basis of the good things that we do. Even those who inspect munitions in [warehouses], for example, though they are paid, do so by volunteering for the good of the nation and safety of other people".  He said Tanzania cannot be rated as among leading countries prone to munitions explosions: “Tanzania is not a unique case in military munitions explosion incidents.  Log on Google and you will see what happens in other countries. Only recently, there were explosion incidents in Zambia, Mozambique, Ethiopia, and Serbia".

22 Feb 2011 - Colombia

110222-12 Buenavista, La Guajira department. Three soldiers in an artillery battalion based in the town of Bueavista were killed and three wounded when they accidentally detonated a grenade at a base in La Guajira. A statement by the First Army Division said: “According to initial reports, the incident happened when the soldiers, who were developing maintenance activities in the area, handled the grenade, which exploded". The army has launched an investigation into the explosion.

24 Feb 2011 - Spain

110224-03 Hoyo de Manzanares, 35 km (21 miles) from Madrid. Five soldiers were killed and three injured in an accidental explosion at a military bomb disposal training centre. The accident occurred at the Military Engineering Academy at Hoyo de Manzanares, which also houses the International Demining Centre.

Defence Minister Carme Chacon postponed a trip to Budapest for a meeting with her EU counterparts in order to visit the scene. She said those killed were on a training exercise aimed at preparing them to join Spain’s contingent in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), where they were to have taken part in operations to deactivate explosives. Chacon said among them were some of the best bomb disposal experts in the armed forces, and some had just returned from Afghanistan.

The incident occurred at 10:30 in the area known as El Palancar, an area within the academy prepared for practice explosions. Some sixteen soldiers had launched an exercise to destroy various anti-tank mines, supposedly inert munitions. This practice is common and is done with devices disabled and without detonator, according to the Ministry of Defence. The explosion occurred while the charges were being placed, and before the men could leave.

Because the exercise was carried out by the side of a hill, inside a small cavity, the blast hit squarely on the military. Three of the dead belonged to the Armoured Brigade number 12, from El Goloso,Madrid. The other two dead were from the Marine Brigade of San Fernando (Cádiz). Three other soldiers, also from the base of San Fernando, were injured, two of them seriously.

25 Feb 2011 - USA

110225-09 Mint Hill, Charlotte, NC. An off-duty Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police SWAT officer died after a police device exploded at his home.  Police say Officer Fred [T] was doing a safety check on his equipment late on the afternoon of February 25 when the explosion happened. He had just returned home from a SWAT mission earlier in the afternoon.

Emergency crews were called to his home around 17:35. Upon arrival, EMS workers treated the officer for life threatening injuries caused by the explosion. He was taken to Carolinas Medical Center-Main by police escort. Police said physicians made a heroic effort to save the victim’s life, but the injuries were too severe.

Police said the device that exploded is called a flash-bang. The SWAT team sometimes uses flash-bangs when entering a building. It makes a bright flash and a loud bang.

28 Feb 2011 - UK

110228-12 Over Wallop, near Stockbridge, Hampshire. Wallop Defence Systems. Fire-fighters were called to the factory at Over Wallop where Wallop Defence Systems make aviation flares.  On March 2, John Taylor, managing director, said that incident lasted three seconds after one of the flares caught fire on a production line. The factory’s fire suppression system immediately kicked in, dousing the flare with carbon dioxide. Mr Taylor said the incident was not near to a storage area and there was no risk. The flares are made remotely with staff behind secure barriers. He said the factory makes 250,000 flares a year, and every year about five ignite: “We always assume this will happen and so makes the processes as safe as we can. The flare ignited and the operators exited the building. There were about 30 people on the site".

Mr Taylor said Wallop Defence Systems was a big success story now employing 200 people with an annual turnover of £35 million, compared to ten years ago when it employed 35 people with a turno-ver of £3.5m. Wallop Defence Systems was the scene of a major accident in 2006 when a worker was killed in an explosion. [See HInt 06-06, 060626-05.]

1 Mar 2011 - USA

110301-04 Independence, MO. Lake City Army Ammunition Plant.  ATK.  Five people were injured at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant, one of whom was flown to the hospital by medical helicopter. In a statement by ATK, the company that operates the plant, emergency personnel continue to investigate the incident, which occurred at about 13:30. The company would not comment on the extent of injuries. The incident occurred in a construction area and was contained, and ATK said it was too early to speculate on the cause of this incident or additional impacts. The incident was under investigation by the United States Army, ATK safety teams and the local authorities.

1 Mar 2011 - South Africa

110301-06 Losberg, North West Province. Omnia Holdings, Bulk Mining Explosives (BME). Three workers were killed and six others injured in an explosion at the Bulk Mining Explosives (BME) cartridge plant at Losberg. The company said in a statement: “It is with deepest sadness that the management of BME confirms that three employees were killed this afternoon in an explosion at BME’s Losberg cartridge production plant in the North West Province. The company has immediately notified the relevant authorities and a full investigation has been launched to determine the cause of the incident.” The cartridge plant supplies Megamite for the underground market and is one of the plants at the Losberg facility. The remaining plants were not been affected.

Megamite is a high-energy cap sensitive ANFO emulsion explosive suitable for use in tough breaking conditions in hard rock mining environments. Megamite is classified by the South African Chief Inspector of Explosives as a Class E explosive.

3 Mar 2011 - Burma (Myanmar)

110303-04 Near Rangoon, Pegu Division. Inndakaw munitions factory. A small fire, contained in Unit No. 1, broke out at the Inndakaw munitions factory outside of Rangoon. No injuries were reported, and there was no estimate of damage. Fire crews were dispatched around 18:00, and the fire was contained around 19:15. Two fire engines from the Htaukkyant Fire Department in Rangoon were dispatched, in addition to fire engines from Insein and Mingalardon townships and the Rangoon Division Central Fire Department. The Inndakaw munitions factory is one of four located around Rangoon.

4 Mar 2011 - Austria

110304-13 Stadl-Paura, (Bezirk Wels-Land), Oberösterreich. Three kilograms of explosives and some machine gun ammunition were discovered in an abandoned army bunker at the site of Army munitions plant. The material was probably stolen and introduced into the old bunker only a few days before the discovery. The complex only allows access to a restricted group, and it was not yet known whether anyone from the army or someone from the outside got access to the site. There is as yet no suspicion, for what purpose the material was hidden. The ammunition is suitable only for military weapons; the explosives for various applications.

Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Birschkus, of the military command of Upper Austria, said the explosives could be used for various purposes : from blowing up a tree stump to military use: “If it ignites at once, that is a large amount".  For now the army is investigating internally. Birschkus said the security directorate had also informed the public prosecutor in Wels. The Upper Austrian security director Alois Lißl initially had nothing to say except that it was an army issue.

5 Mar 2011 - Cuba

110305-07 Santiago de Las Vegas.  Revolutionary Armed Forces.  A series of explosion occurred at a munitions store outside the town of Santiago de las Vegas, south of the capital, shortly after 20:00.  A statement released by the Revolutionary Armed Forces said the emergency situation was under control in less than three hours, and nobody was killed or injured.

8 Mar 2011 - USA

110308-04 Corpus Christi, TX. Alice Police Department. A 25-year veteran of the Alice Police Department was injured when a flash-bang grenade went off in his hand as he loaded equipment into a police vehicle. Police Chief Daniel Bueno said Richard DeLeon, SWAT Team commander, was wearing protective equipment when the grenade exploded about 15:00. DeLeon’s hand was injured and the inside of his vehicle damaged by the grenade, a type issued to SWAT Team members to startle suspects with a bright flash and loud bang. DeLeon was flown by HALO-Flight to Christus Spohn Hospital Memorial in stable condition, a flight paramedic said.

A North Carolina SWAT officer was killed in late February in a similar instance when a flash-bang grenade went off at his house as he was unloading equipment. [See HInt 11-02b, 110225-09.]

9 Mar 2011 - Venezuela

110309-09 Maracay, state of Aragua, 130 km (80 miles) west of Caracas. Compañía Anónima Venezolana de Industrias Militares (CAVIM). On March 8, CAVIM activated its alarm system because of a vegetation fire that occurred near the three ammunition stores which exploded on January 30, 2011. [See HInt 11-01b, 110130-01.] The situation required the preventive evacuation of staff and workers from Cavim and Arsenal as a safety measure.

Some residents of the communities of José Félix Ribas and Coromoto said they had heard the siren inside so they decided to leave the area for safety. They noted that some people evacuated their homes on their own initiative, and not on orders from regional authorities or military. An inhabitant of Coromoto said that she saw a column of smoke coming out of Cavim and heard small explosions.

14 Mar 2011 - USA

110314-15 Fort Bragg, NC. An apparent explosion of a howitzer during a training exercise at the Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Army base, left eight Marines and two Navy personnel injured, mostly with shrapnel wounds and lacerations. Staff Sergeant Jayson Price of the 2nd Marine Division said the incident occurred at about 20:00 as troops conducted an artillery live fire exercise.

Two of the injured were flown to a hospital at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Emergency workers brought the other eight troops to Womack Army Medical Center, where they were in stable condition. The 10th Marine Regiment has temporarily halted firing exercises.

According to Price, eight Camp Lejeune Marines with the 2nd Marine Division and two Navy personnel were practicing “Exercise Rolling Thunder” with an M777A2 - 155mm howitzer: “The result of an apparent in-bore explosion of one M777A2 while conducting an artillery live-fire exercise aboard Fort Bragg. The cause of the incident is under investigation and the regiment remains in a check-firing status which means we are not firing until safe training can resume. Luckily, no one was killed in the accident. Of course, 10 people were injured but I’m just glad that no one was killed".

16 Mar 2011 - USA

110316-03 Yuma, AZ. Yuma Proving Ground (YPG). At least ten employees at Yuma Proving Ground were transported to Yuma Regional Medical Center after being exposed to red phosphorus smoke leaking from a mortar shell shortly before 15:00. Some also inhaled the smoke. Although there were no immediate reports of serious injuries, the employees were taken to the hospital as a precaution.

Chuck Wullenjohn, YPG spokesman, said the incident occurred when employees at YPG were testing mortar rounds by heating them in a special conditioning chamber and firing them. During the heating, at least one of the mortars ignited on its own and released a large red cloud of phosphorus. Wullenjohn said: “We condition several of our rounds before we fire them. What that means is that we either cool them down to a certain temperature, or we heat them up to a certain temperature for testing because we have to test for different types of environmental conditions. The rounds, we don’t know specifically what happened yet, but at least one of them started to cook off.” Those who were exposed to the phosphorus were standing at a nearby gun position downwind from the conditioning chamber.

16 Mar 2011 - China

110316-08 Linwu County, Chenzhou City, Hunan Province. A plant thought to have been abandoned exploded, leaving two dead, and two missing. The explosion occurred at 19:30, and shattered windows of nearby houses, killed two people at the scene. An initial investigation found that the explosives was caused by illegal explosives production, police said.  Two suspects were detained by police.

21 Mar 2011 - USA

110321-06-A Camp Minden, Webster Parish, LA.  A fire broke out around 07:20 in a plant making explosives for the mining industry.  Fire-fighters said an employee pulled an alarm at the plant about 07:20, and all 24 of the workers in the building go out safely. Plant Manager Brent Giliom said in this case, you do not fight an explosives fire. A one-half mile radius was cleared around the plant just in case of any explosions, although fire-fighters at the command post said the possibility of an explosion was very low.  They said the fire did not pose a safety risk to any of the homes outside of the Camp Minden property.

27 Mar 2011 - Yemen

110327-09 Ja’ar, Abyan governorate. 7th of October ammunition factory. An explosion resulted in the death of at least 150 people and the injury of a greater number at the “7th of October” ammunition factory in Ja’ar. Local sources said that after armed men, believed to be members of Al Qaeda, took control over the factory, they looted ammunition and left. The next day, a group of local youths were reportedly rummaging through the abandoned factory and set off a series of explosions. The factory, in the Khanfar area, close to Ja’ar city, made munitions and Kalashnikov rifles.

A physician told newswires: “This accident is a true catastrophe, the first of its kind in Abyan. There are so many burned bodies.  I can’t even describe the situation".  Physicians said counting the dead was almost impossible, because the force of the explosion had left the remains of people so badly charred. It was reported that scores of people were wounded, and many bodies remained inside the factory, which also contained stores of gunpowder.

On March 30, the death toll from the explosions had risen to 150. Initial reports said 78 had died, but more bodies had been pulled out of the factory.  The explosion reportedly caused great anger among locals, who accused the authorities of planning it to try to win further support from the USA. Yemeni officials blamed al-Qaeda for the explosions.

30 Mar 2011 - Colombia

110330-06 Pasto, Nariño. Universidad de Nariño.  Six people were injured in an explosion which occurred around 20:50 at the University of Nariño. The explosion was apparently the result of explosives in a construction camp, located within the school and from which several works there are co-ordinated.  The injured were taken to the Hospital Department in the city of Pasto. According to Lt. Charles Benavides, of the Volunteer Fire Department of Pasto, some workers were handling the material when the explosion occurred. Lt. Benavides said: “We evacuated two of the six injured were in serious condition with burns over his face and arms".  Police officials were admitted to the educational institution at the request of the directors of the entity, to advance the research needed to clarify the event.

6 April 2011 - Russia

110406-04 Near the settlement of Dachny, Lipetsk region.  Three people were killed, and one injured died later, in an explosion at a military base in central Russia. Colonel Igor Konashenkov, a Defence Ministry spokesman, said the explosion occurred at an ammunition storage and disposal depot in the Lipetsk region, about 450 km southeast of Moscow. Konashenkov said: “The fire was localized and no ammunition detonation threat is looming any longer. The Defence Ministry committee is working at the blast site.  According to preliminary reports, a box with 40 kilograms of powder detonated at about 10:20 Moscow time at a firing range in a powder disposal operation at the central missile artillery base near the settlement of Dachny in the Lipetsk Region. Four civilian employees of the base were killed, and another was injured in the explosion.

The military investigation department of the Russian Investigation Committee in the Tambov garrison opened a criminal case over the death of three people in the explosion of “a powder box” in a powder disposal operation at the central missile artillery base in the Lipetsk Region.  The main military investigation department of the Russian Investigation Committee told newswires: “The criminal case was opened under Article 217 Part 3 for violation of the safety rules at the highly explosion hazardous facilities that entailed the death of two and more people through negligence”.  Meanwhile, the military prosecutor’s office also launched an investigation into the observance of procedures during the operations at the highly explosive hazardous facilities.  The detectives from the military prosecutor’s office in the Tambov garrison were working at the blast site and the district deputy military prosecutor was there.

13 April 2011 - USA

110413-01 Toone, TN. Kilgore Flares. http://www.wreg.com/news/wreg-kilgore-accident-april,0,2548007.story

Three Kilgore Flares workers were sent to hospital in Bolivar after an accident at their workplace. Two workers were burned, while another was knocked unconscious.  According to family members, the workers were mixing chemicals when the accident happened.

Kilgore Flares suffered an explosion in September, 2010, that hurt six workers. [See HInt 10-09, 100914-05.].  The plant was cited for 14 safety violations and fined $348,000.  Tennessee OSHA warned of too many flammable materials in individual work stations. [See HInt 11-03b, A-100914-05.]

13 April 2011 - Russia

110413-14 Pskov Oblast.  Four soldiers died and one was injured by an explosion of ammunition inside a Nona self-propelled artillery unit during a tactical exercise in the Pskov region.  The soldiers belonged to the 106th Tula Airborne Division, and were all young conscripts drafted from the Kostroma, Ryazan, and Tula oblasts.

The military prosecutor’s office said: “It has been determined preliminarily that ammunition exploded inside a self-propelled artillery unit during a firing exercise, as a result of which four paratroopers of the 106th Tula Airborne Division were killed and one was wounded. ... A group of military prosecutors led by First Deputy Military Prosecutor of the Western Military District, Justice Major-General Igor Lebedev, and investigators from the military investigation department of the Russian Investigation Committee for the Western Military District are working at the scene of the incident”.

14 April 2011 - Ireland

110414-05 Moneygall, County Offaly.  A truck carrying explosives crashed into a shop in Moneygall.  The incident happened at about 07:30 when the truck carrying commercial explosives crashed into the front wall of Donovan’s grocery on Main Street.

A spokesman for the North Tipperary Fire Services said the truck involved in the crash was being used to transport explosive materials.  However, the contents had been made safe for transit, and the detonators were being carried separately from the accompanying liquid elements.  Following an 

inspection of the dangers posed by the explosive material, the truck was towed away at about 09:30. A mechanical fault is considered the most likely cause of the crash.  The truck driver was shaken and he sustained a sore wrist. It is understood the vehicle carrying the explosives and detonators was travelling from a factory in Nenagh that produces components for commercial explosives used in the mining industry.

The shop is owned by the Donovan family, who also claim to own US President Obama’s ancestral home.

20 April 2011 - Czech Republic

110420-06-A Semtín, Pardubice, 100km east of Prague. Explosia.  Four people were missing, presumed dead, and at least seven people were injured in a major explosion at the Explosia factory, manufacturers of the plastic explosive Semtex. Jaroslava Doležalová, a spokeswoman for the company Synthesia, which owns the Explosia factory, told Czech media: “We don’t yet know the details about the explosion, but four of our employees are missing. Currently, we’re assessing the extent of the damage”.  The explosion occurred at 06:45; by 11:00, a team of dog handlers that arrived at the scene still had not begun searching for the missing employees as emergency services had warned there was a risk of a further explosion.

Vendula Horáková, spokeswoman for the Pardubice region fire brigade, told Czech Television that the explosion was thought to have been caused by nitroglycerine, but that no toxic gases had been detected in the air around the plant.

The factory’s staff were strictly forbidden from speaking with journalists, but an employee who agreed to speak to the news server Aktualne.cz said the incident was probably caused by human error: “Judging by the location of the explosion, it was most probably caused by a mistake when mixing nitrocellulose with nitroglycerine. It was most likely human error, the failure to observe basic safety rules”.

On April 22, it was reported that rescue workers had found body parts.  A spokesman for the rescue workers said that was no more hope for the four missing workers, as it would be inconceivable that someone could survive such a powerful explosion in a confined space.

20 April 2011 - Tajikistan

110420-10 Roudaki district.  Six persons were injured when an anti-tank shell exploded because of careless handling. According to the Ministry of Interior (MoI), the accident occurred at local market: “A 38-year-old entrepreneur Umar Saidov found the antitank shell at the Lohour training grounds and brought it to the market to show to his friends. Six persons were wounded as the shell exploded because of careless treatment.  Two of them – Kuvandik Ikromov, 70, and Sadriddin Afghonov, 23 – are in critical condition”.

Deputy Interior Minister Saidkhon Jurakhonov and Mansour Bukhoriyev, chief of the Interior Ministry department for combating drug trafficking, visited the site. According to Bukhoriyev, the explosion occurred after Saidov threw the shell to one of his friends just for fun, but the last failed to catch it.

27 April 2011 - Chile

110427-07 Fort Baquedano, near Huara, 70 km inland from Iquique, Tamarugal Province.  About 12:15, four soldiers from the Brigada Acorazada Cazadores were injured after detonating an unknown item while performing an exercise in the area of Fort Baquedano.  The accident occurred when a group of soldiers found an artefact, apparently a grenade, which was hidden in the place traditionally practiced for this military exercise.

Gen. Daniel Arancibia Clavel, Commander of the Segunda Brigada Acoraza Cazadores, said: “It was not an explosive or ammunition that was being used in the exercise, but that is an artefact that apparently was in place 10 years ago, and hidden less than 100 metres from the central unit of the brigade”.  The wounded soldiers remained hospitalized at the Regional Hospital in the city.

28 April 2011 - Albania

110428-03 Bigaz, region of Skrapar, 150 kilometres (93 miles) south of Tirana. Albania’s defence ministry said an explosion at a munitions disposal plant killed one worker and wounded three others.  A ministry statement says a shell accidentally exploded during work in Bigaz.  Work at the army plant was suspended following the incident.

The defence ministry later said an army engineer, Sergeant Agim Mekollari, died on the spot at Ammunition Elimination Site near the village of Bigaz.  The Defence Ministry said the causes leading to the explosion were being investigated, and all elimination of old ammunition by blasting had been suspended.

The death is the first since the Defence Ministry began destroying old ammunition stockpiles by detonating them in faraway locations following the deaths of 26 people at an ammunition dismantling plant near the capital Tirana and the main airport in March 2008. [See HInt 08-03a, 080315-01.]

28 April 2011 - Pakistan

110428-04 Gulpar camp, Kotli district.  One soldier was killed and five were wounded in an explosion at an army camp in a Pakistani administered area of Kashmir.  The explosion occurred around midnight and triggered fire in Gulpar camp in Kotli district near the UN monitored line of control that divides the disputed Himalayan region between India and Pakistan.  Local police chief Malik Khalid said one body had been recovered, and five soldiers injured in the incident had been admitted to hospital.

Local administration chief Fareed Ahmed said: “We are investigating if the explosion was accidentally caused by an electrical short circuit or if it was an act of terrorism”.

4 May 2011 - Colombia

110504-02 Cúcuta, Department of Norte de Santander.  Fermín Peñaranda Zarate died in an explosion at 07:30 in a powder magazine in the municipality of Villa del Rosario, Cúcuta.  The victim, who worked in construction, died when he apparently manipulated several explosive devices.  Emergency agencies said that fortunately there were no other casualties, or injuries.  Aldemar Garcia, coordinator of the Office of Disaster Prevention and Treatment, said the emergency was controlled in time, preventing the fire from spreading to other dwellings.

14 May 2011 - Cambodia

110514-04 Western province of Kampong Speu.  Three Cambodian deminers were killed in an explosion as they were handling an unexploded shell left over from decades of civil war.  Heng Rattana, director general of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre, said the accident occurred in the western province of Kampong Speu when explosive powder in the ordnance was accidentally ignited.  He said the trio tried to run away ‘but could not escape before the explosion’.  Rattana said that because of bad weather, the men had been trying to store the shell so that it could be destroyed the following day, adding: “The three men had more than ten years’ experience of working in the field.  One of them was a supervisor.  When there is just one error, we are in danger”.

15 May 2011- India

110515-06 Bhadrawati tehsil, Chandrapur district, Maharashtra. Ordnance Factory (OF) Chanda. Bhadrawati police discovered a headless body in the fields along the road leading to Sakharwahi.  Initially a case of accidental death was registered, and investigations into the case were handed over to API GS Pidurkar.  Police later identified the deceased as Abdul Kadir Nabbu Sheikh (27), a resident of Sumthana village, near Bhadrawati.

According to Pidurkar: “During investigations, Salim Sheikh, brother of deceased Kadir, gave false information about the whereabouts of his brother on the fateful day.  When information given by him was counter checked, it turned out to be false and Salim came under our scanner.  When grilled, he spilled the beans and revealed the sensational story of theft of detonators from OF Chanda, and the accidental death of his brother in an explosion.”

He said that accused Salim Sheikh, accomplice Siya Pawre and one other were contract labourers with the “high security” OF Chanda.  They used to steal detonators with brass contents from the ordnance factory and sell them to scrap merchants.  On May 14, they removed a bunch of detonators from the ordnance factory during their working hours and hid them in secluded places across hundreds of acres in the premises of the factory.  Later in the night, deceased Abdul Kadir, Samrat Jumde and Sunder Varma removed the detonators from the hiding places.  The following morning they took them to scrap dealer Abdul Wahid Abdul Hamid’s shop in Padoli near Chandrapur.

The scrap merchant agreed to purchase the stolen items, but asked them to separate brass from the iron in the detonators.  In a bid to separate the brass, Kadir started hammering at detonator with a heavy object in the premises of the scrap shop.  The detonator exploded and blew off Kadir’s head.  Jumde, who was standing near Kadir, sustained injuries on his face and hand.  Shocked, Wahid, Sheik and the others decided to dump the dead body in a secluded area.  They took the dead body in a Tata Sumo and threw it in a secluded area near Sakharwahi.  However, investigators cracked the case in two days and arrested Salim Sheikh, Sundar Varma, Siya Pawre and scrap dealer Abdul Wahid.

16 May 2011 - USA

110516-01-A South Nashville, TN. Well Done Bullets.  One person was killed and another was missing in a fire and explosion at an ammunitions store in South Nashville.  A third person was injured.  The fire broke out around 15:30 at Well Done Bullets.  Engineers were called determine whether the building was structurally sound enough for fire-fighters to enter the building to search for another possible victim.  The shop is located in the Hampton Place office complex, which also houses a dental office.  The entire building was evacuated. Officials said the ammunition shop was not

registered. Assistant Chief Charles Shannon said Well Done Bullet had rented that office space since February.  He also said the city was unaware ammunition was being manufactured at that location.  Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were called in to investigate the explosion.

Fire officials said there was some sort of explosion, and when they arrived on the scene the bottom corner of the building was full of flames. According to Nashville Assistant Fire Chief Charles Shannon: “At that time they also reported that they did have what sounded like ammunition sounds going off, small explosions”.

The shop’s name seems to have been prophetic.  Our advice would be “Bullets à Point”, rather than “Rare Bullets”, though the latter could charge higher prices.

On May 18, Metro police spokesman Don Aaron said the owner of the shop was federally licensed to sell and import firearms, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, but was not licensed to manufacture ammunition.  However, Aaron said he was known to keep containers of gunpowder for reloading ammunition.

It was alleged that the business was registered with the Davidson County Clerk’s Office, but there was no advertisement of the ammunition business at the address.  While the business was registered with the county, Metro Codes did not know it existed.

Aaron said the husband and wife owners were in the process of opening an ammunition reloading supply company. The store was broken into on May 11, with a thief taking a computer.  The store’s alarm went off after 05:00. Metro police found broken glass at the front door, and a large rock.

19 May 2011- India

110519-09 Bazargaon village, Nagpur, Maharashtra. AMA Industries.  A major explosion around 05:15 in an explosives manufacturing company near Bazargaon village caused earthquake-like tremors in Nagpur and nearby areas.  The explosion left one dead and two injured, and was recorded as a 1.9 Richter scale event at the regional meteorological centre. Sources said that the blast destroyed the store of the company, and the material was enough to make 60-100 tonnes of explosives.  There were three explosions one after the other, with flames being seen 5-6 km away.

However, the business housed raw materials for making commercial explosives and did not have finished products. According to local “industry players”, raw materials usually would not explode unless bound into a single explosive – even in case of a fire.  They can burn, but not explode.  [Not universally true.]

Going by this theory, some said there could be chance that finished explosives were being stored in the premises, with an intent to later move them to the company’s magazine nearby.  The company’s proprietor Akhtar Maimoon, however, denied having any finished goods in the store. Officials of AMA Industries cited the traditional short-circuit as one of the possible reasons for fire.  However, no electricity connection is normally allowed in such areas, to prevent any such mishap.  An explosive maker said: “Various chemicals like ammonium nitrate, aluminium powder, and sulphur when mixed in specific proportions make an explosive.  However, all such chemicals stored at different places even in a single premises do not explode under normal fire.  A safe distance has to be maintained for storing each of them.”

Petroleum Explosives and Safety Organisation (PESO), the industry regulator, was said to be “strangely silent” on the incident.  A team of PESO officials visited the site, late in the afternoon the the blast occurred early in the morning. A larger team went to the site the next day.  The joint chief controller of explosives PC Srivastava said that the ministry of commerce, of which PESO is a part, did not permit its officials to divulge any information in such a case.

26 May 2011 - India

110526-06 Kalavarpadavu, near Bajpe, Mangalore, Karnataka state.  Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Limited (ISRPL).  Three men, including a Korean national, died, and four were injured, when improperly stored explosives exploded at the site of ISPRL’s crude oil storage cavern project in the Mangalore Special Economic Zone Limited (MSEZL).  The 1.5 million tonnes capacity project, which is being implemented on an 83 acre site, is expected to be completed in 2012.

26 May 2011 - Russia

110526-08-A Urman, Bashkortostan.  At least 2,000 people were evacuated from the Urals village of Urman after a fire broke out at a local ammunition depot.  Forty structures, including 14 apartment houses, were damaged when artillery shells exploded in a loading area of the depot in the Bash-kortostan region.  A fire-fighting aircraft and a number of robots were deployed to put out the fire.  A plume of smoke was visible more than 40 kilometres from the military base, whose warehouses mostly contained large-calibre cannon and mortar shells.  A report said one person died during the evacuation.

Interfax reported that artillery shells were exploding, and quoted an official as saying the fire may have spread from nearby woods.  However, RIA cited another official as saying ammunition had exploded while being transported for destruction.

Defence officials said the fire began when a piece of ammunition went off during a regular loading operation, adding: “As a result of the fire, shells stored in a loading area began to detonate.”

The Transneft oil pipeline monopoly stopped pumping crude to a local refinery as a precaution because the fire was running close to one of the company’s lines.

On May 27, it was reported that a soldier’s unsafe handling of cannon shells was the cause of the fire that killed two and forced the evacuation of thousands.  Military prosecutors charged private Sergei Denyaev with gross violation of safety procedures while unpacking artillery munitions.  Denyaev is alleged to have thrown a single shell containing a detonator into a pile of others, which touched off a fire engulfing thousands of rounds.

The fire forced the evacuation of more than 7,000 people from neighbouring villages, destroyed businesses employing more than 400 people, and temporarily closed local rail lines.  The fire was still burning and detonations were still taking place inside the base 24 hours later.

30 May 2011 - Germany

110530-06 Leverkusen, Nordrhein-Westfalen. Dynamit Nobel.  A small explosion occurred around 18:30 at Dynamit Nobel, and one employee was slightly injured.

According to the plant Executive Board at a hastily convened press conference, there was an explosion inside a pilot plant.  This had released gases, but these were filtered through an internal filter system, so that there was no threat to local residents.  At the time of the explosion five workers were on shift, one of them was slightly injured.

2 June 2011- Russia

110602-03-C Izhevsk, Volga region of Udmurtia.  On June 3, authorities in central Russia were still battling a fire raging through an arms depot storing around 10,000 tonnes of shells that forced the evacuation of more than 12,000 people.  The incident began around 23:50 Moscow time [19:50 GMT].  The facility belongs to the Defence Ministry’s missile and artillery directorate and is tasked mainly with munitions disposal.  The facility stores from 5,000 to 10,000 railway wagons with various ammunition.  It was believed 18 storage facilities are on fire.

Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said the military did not sustain any casualties.  He said it was currently impossible to establish what caused the blaze: “Everything is on fire and exploding.”

Emergencies Ministry spokesman Mikhail Surkov said the entire depot near the village of Pugachyovo near Izhevsk was consumed by the fire, and authorities had already evacuated more than 12,000 people from the area.  The Emergencies Ministry said it would send two Il-76 firefighting aircraft, each able to carry 42 tonnes of water.  They took off from Moscow’s Ramenskoe Airfield early that morning.

Later on June 3, the number evacuated rose to 28,000, two people were reported killed, and the number of injured was at least 45, 19 of whom were hospitalized.  Some of those who sought medical aid suffered from smoke inhalation, while others were cut by broken glass. A spokesman for the republic’s head said: “There are also people who need psychological support”.

The accident forced the Emergencies Ministry to temporarily close the Yelabuga-Izhevsk zone of the M7 federal highway, connecting Moscow and Ufa, the capital of the Urals republic of Bashkortostan.  The nearby railway link was also closed.  Pipeline owner Transneft said that it was not receiving the 161,000 bpd of oil that it usually gets from the region.  Transneft spokesman Igor Dyomin said one of its pipelines had stopped receiving 131,000 barrels per day of oil from Rosneft.  Shipments from producers LUKoil and Russneft, equal to 30,000 bpd, had also been halted.  Dyomin said: “The pipeline stopped getting oil from 0100 Moscow time on Friday. Customers are still getting oil as we have reserves”.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov to launch an investigation into two explosions at military arms depots and warned that dismissals may be necessary.  Suggesting that officers could lose their rank or be dismissed, Medvedev said: “Two times is already systemic. [sic].  Prepare proposals for me about who must answer for this and how.  Since they do not understand the nice way, it is necessary to take away their shoulder straps”.

On June 4, regional emergency ministry spokes-man Mikhail Turkov said that more than 1,200 fire-fighters were at

the scene, adding: “The intensity of the explosions has gone down from around 40 to 45 per minute.  The fire at the depot is localised and still burning at the centre.  Some shells are still exploding”.  Turkov said the emergency ministry was using remotely controlled robots, water-bombing aircraft, and armoured vehicles to fight the fire, since the explosions made it too dangerous for fire engines, adding: “We cannot send living people in fire engines in there”.

Under the headline “The defence ministry is disarming by blowing sky high”, the Kommersant daily newspaper criticised the defence ministry for using conscripts to handle explosives without proper training or protection.  A source familiar with the depot reportedly told Kommersant: “What happened at the Number 102 arsenal is total lawlessness and disorganisation.  Soldiers were being exploited.  They carried around the shells and gunpowder in zinc boxes without any special equipment.  There was practically no training and the soldiers were carrying the shells around even at night”.

On June 6, although Alexander Romanovsky, who heads the Defence Ministry’s Main Artillery Directorate, faced dismissal for the three-day fire in the Udmurtia republic and a similar blaze in Bashkortostan two weeks earlier, another Ministry official said that Romanovsky had been placed in charge of investigating the Udmurtia fire.  No time frame was set for the investigation.

7 June 2011 - USA

110607-07 Camp Minden, Webster Parish, LA.  An explosion occurred about 06:20 at the Goex plant, a black-powder plant at Camp Minden.  State Police trooper Cordell Williams said authorities evacuated everyone in a 1,000-yard radius of the plant until emergency crews were sure the situation was stabilized.  Sammy Halphen, head of homeland security for neighbouring Bossier Parish, said five employees were in a part of the plant called the corning mill when the incident occurred.  Approximately 1,000 pounds of black powder exploded.

All the work is done by remote control, so no one was inside the building.  Ten people were evacuated from the immediate area.  One person fell down during the evacuation, and was taken to the hospital.

15 June 2011 - Germany

110615-07 Döberitzer Heide, Priort, Brandenburg.  A 51-year-old worker was seriously injured in an ammunition bunker in the Döberitzer Heide in Priort.  The accident, the exact sequence of events and cause the police did not specify, occurred in the late morning.  The underground shelter is a temporary store, used by the weapons disposal service.  There, defused ammunition is stored, found in the districts of Havel and Potsdam-Mittelmark, in Brandenburg, until it is brought to the headquarters at Kummersdorf (Teltow-Fläming).

16 June 2011- Argentina

110616-03 Puerto Belgrano, Punta Alta, province of Buenos Aires.  Four people were injured when a rocket accidentally ignited at the Puerto Belgrano Naval Base.  The explosion occurred in the armoury of the Infantry Battalion (BIN) 2, during the daily stock and control of the armoury, located between the Battery Base and Naval Base.  The Ministry of Defence reported that an inquiry had been initiated to determine the causes of the incident, which occurred shortly after 09:00 when, for reasons unknown, the engine of a rocket was activated.

The head of Press and Publications of Puerto Belgrano, Capitán de navío Eduardo Pisciolari, said an officer, two NCOs and one civilian were injured in the accident, and were transferred to the Puerto Belgrano Naval Hospital, but were out of danger.  The Second-in-Command of the BIN II, Commander and Marine Maximilian Canepa, suffered injuries on his right forearm, and underwent surgery.  The other three injured persons were treated and remained under observation, according to the Ministry of Defence.

One of those injured was reported to have been a civilian priest; it was unclear what part he played in weapons inspection.

21 June 2011 - Afghanistan

110621-09 Shank base, province of Logar.  A soldier from the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in the Afghan province of Logar received a light leg wound when he probably stepped on ammunition that exploded.  Jana Ruzickova, spokeswoman of the general staff, said the accident occurred at the shooting range close to the Shank base at which the PRT operates, adding: “Before the shooting training started, he probably stepped on an unexploded piece of ammunition in the range complex.  The explosion caused a light splinter injury to his leg. Afterwards he was treated at the Shank base.  It is supposed that he will later be taken to the military hospital in Kabul”.  The 40-year-old sergeant major was provided first aid on the spot.

24 June 2011 - Mexico

110624-03 Jacona, Michoacán. José de Jesús Urbina Bucio was killed by the sudden explosion of gunpowder with

which he was reportedly filling a borehole to demolish rocks on a property in the municipality of Jacona.  The accident occurred around 17:30 in an uninhabited area in the neighbourhood of La Joyita.  Secundino Villalvazo Gallardo, a co-worker of the deceased, said they were hired by the owners of the land to get rid of the rocky area with the use of explosives.  However, when José de Jesus was about to place the dangerous material in the drilling of a huge stone, it was activated in a strange manner, and the force of the blast drove José de Jesus about seven metres, where, dismembered, he finally fell on the floor.  Police were investigating.

26 June 2011 - Pakistan

110626-09 Three police officials were suspended from duties on June 29 following their admission before an investigation team that the explosion at the Gaddafi police post was caused by explosives they had stored in a warehouse at the police station.  Earlier, it was suspected that the explosion was a case of terrorism.

Sub-Inspector (SI) Safdar Naseer, who was the in charge of the post, and Constables Rehmat Ali and Mushtaq told the investigation team that the explosives had been recovered from a criminal.  City police officer Amir Zulfiqar Khan told local media the three said they had later released the criminal without registration of a case, but kept the explosives at the warehouse.  Khan said the officials were found guilty of negligence and that strict action would be taken against them.  He said the three were currently under arrest and that an FIR had been registered against them.

Khan said the explosives had gone off due to the heat inside the store room.  He said more explosives were recovered from the store during investigations.  He said constable Mushtaq had first disclosed to the investigators that the incident was caused due to negligence, and was not an act of terrorism.  He said the SI and the other constables had later confessed to their role, adding: “Mushtaq told the investigators that he was waiting for Shabi-Baraat so he could sell the explosives in the market”.

Eleven people – seven civilians and four policemen – were injured in the explosion at the police station on June 26.  Police had initially said it was a terrorist attack aimed possibly at releasing three criminals locked up at the police station.  However, investigations later revealed that the three had already been moved to another police station the day before. The building of the police station and some adjoining houses were damaged in the explosion.

1 July 2011 - Belgium

110701-07 Jéhonville, Bertrix (province of Luxembourg).  A box of tails for mortar shells exploded around 09:00 at the Army munitions depot in Jehonville, injuring two soldiers, who were hospitalised at Libramont.  The incident occurred when the box was dropped.  The explosion did not propagate to any other stored munitions.

With 280 partially buried bunkers – called igloos – the Jehonville base was built by the US Army to the highest NATO standards, but became surplus with the end of the Cold War.  Since 1993, it has been the the Belgian Army’s main munitions store, managed by the 260th Company of the Ground Component.

2 July 2011 - Spain

110702-02-A El Gordo, Castilla-La Mancha. Fabricaciones Extremeñas S.A.  An explosion around 13:15 at a munitions factory in central Spain, used mainly to dismantle cluster bombs, killed one person and wounded four others, one of them seriously.  Two rescue helicopters were deployed to the factory just outside the town of El Gordo, 175 km (110 miles) west of Madrid, and a wounded person was flown to Getafe hospital in the capital. Three people were taken to a hospital in Navalmoral de la Mata, a nearby town in the neighbouring region of Extremadura, and roads to the factory were closed off by local Civil Guard officers. The explosion also caused a small brush fire, which was quickly extinguished.

On July 3, the company said that the explosion occurred during the destruction of confiscated fireworks, not during the destruction of cluster bombs.  The accident occurred in an incinerator, when the workers tried to free a box that had become blocked, and which contained explosives fireworks, which had been confiscated because they were expired.  The blast caused a fire in the grass around the factory, which was quickly extinguished, and also damaged a nearby ship. According to the company, every year the authorities seize a large number of recreational pyrotechnics, which enter Europe illegally, mostly from Asia.  Being devoid of quality control, these are destroyed in facilities such as El Gordo to prevent them from being marketed.

6 July 2011 - Colombia

110706-08 Yarumal, north of Medellin, Antioquia department.  One soldier was killed and two others seriously injured by an explosion in a military complex in Yarumal, in the Antioquia department.  Initial information indicated that the explosion was an accident, caused by poor handling of an explosive device, likely a grenade, by an army member.  The commander of the army’s 4th Brigade ordered investigations in order to establish the full circumstances surrounding the event.  The two wounded soldiers, from the Atanasio Girardot battalion, were being attended at the Medellin Military Hospital, and the soldier’s body will be transferred to his hometown of Puerto Berrio, Santander department.

7 July 2011- Turkmenistan

110707-03-D Abadan, suburb of Ashgabat.  A major explosion occurred in the town of Abadan on the outskirts of the Turkmen capital Ashgabat, causing widespread casualties and a mass evacuation.  There were contradictory reports of the exact cause of the explosion:  Turkmen authorities claimed that the summer heat had ignited vast stores of fireworks held in special warehouse; Chronicles of Turkmenistan, an opposition website, claimed a military armoury had caught fire.

President Gurbunguly Berdymukhamedov chaired an emergency meeting of his Cabinet and the State Security Council in an attempt to get the situation under control.  As of 02:00 on July 8, the authorities had not provided television or radio news of the disaster, and only posted the following notice on the government’s official Internet site at midnight after an emergency government meeting:

“Today an emergency joint session of the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan and the State Security Council of Turkmenistan was held chaired by President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov at which was reviewed the emergency related to the ignition of pyrotechnical goods, intended for fireworks, stored at special warehouses on the outskirts of the city of Abadam.  The fire started as a result of the particularly hot weather in recent days.  The heads of the military and law enforcement agencies reported to the head of state about the emergency measures taken to eliminate the consequences of the incident.  There are no victims or particular wreckages.  The population is being provided the necessary medical and other forms of assistance.  Some of the population which lives immediately adjacent to the location of the incident have been evacuated to a safe place”.

On July 8, Chronicles of Turkmenistan reported that explosions were still continuing, that dead bodies could be seen strewn around the streets, thousands were being evacuated, and that the fires could be seen from Ashgabat 20km away.  Chronicles of Turkmenistan also reported panic in the streets, and widespread looting.

On July 8, eyewitnesses spoke of many people killed and injured after a powerful explosion at a weapons depot sprayed fire and ammunition throughout the town.  The first explosion on July 7 afternoon destroyed some homes and buildings and set off a series of smaller explosions as bullets and bomb fragments rained down on the town. Eyewitnesses told the respected RFE/RL news service that there were dozens of casualties, most of them soldiers who were working at the military base where the armoury is located.  The fire engines were unable to get close to the weapons depot because of the exploding projectiles.

Soltan Pirmuhamedov, Turkmenistan’s ambassador to Uzbekistan, denied that there had been an arms dump in the town, telling Russian media: “The authorities would not in fact put an ammunition depot within the boundaries of the capital”.  According to Reporters Without Borders, Turkmenistan is the third from the bottom in terms of press freedom, with only Eritrea and North Korea scoring worse.

On July 9, it was claimed that it was common for people to steal ammunition from the depot and sell it, and the explosion could have been a cover-up for theft of arms sold on the black market, so the depletion of stocks would not be noticed. Abadan is only about 100 kilometres from the Afghan border.

In an interview with the Russian TV channel Rain, Ajdar Kurtov, an expert from the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, said that the government’s official version of the story – that stored fireworks ignited in the heat – was plausible because the Turkmen leadership organizes numerous festivities with fireworks, and is planning many gala events for October, the 20th anniversary of independence.

At a government meeting on July 10 in Ashgabat, Turkmen authorities admitted that 13 civilians and two soldiers had been killed in the explosion in Abadan, and after three days of claiming that the incident was only fireworks igniting, officials finally admitted that ammunition also exploded.  On the official government website “Turkmenistan: Golden Age”, it was announced that: “It has been established by a government commission that the ignition occurred as a result of hot weather in recent days, which led to a detonation of pyrotechnical goods, and their flight over a significant territory, in the radius of which happened to be an army warehouse, where explosives were stored from ammunition of the Soviet era which were to be recycled”.  The official statement also acknowledged damage to buildings.

On July 12, the independent émigré website chronotm.org published reports, said to be from reliable sources and based on eyewitness accounts, that the number of victims from the town of some 50,000 people could be as high as 1,382, a third of them children. T he total appeared to be compiled from various reports of buildings destroyed and the people known to be in them and missing, including 127 homes and dozens of public buildings.  According to these reports, 30 people, including newborns, died in a maternity clinic and 30 children who had gone to take a computer lesson at a school located near the power station were also killed.  Only fragments of bodies remain in these cases, making it hard to identify victims.

7 July 2011 - India

110707-04 Chintamani area, Madurai, Tamil Nadu.  An unlicensed explosives warehouse was destroyed in a major fire.  A security guard suffered burn injuries and was hospitalised, police said.  Fire services doused the flames after a two hour battle.  They also removed LPG cylinders stored in a neighbouring site.  Heavy rains during the time also helped put out the fire.  Fire officials said a neighbouring workshop, part of a rice mill, and some trees were damaged in the fire.

11 July 2011 - Cyprus

110711-02-C Evangelos Florakis naval base, Zygi. http://www.euronews.net/2011/07/11/cyprus-blast-defence-minister-army-chief-resign/, http://www.euronews.net/nocomment/2011/07/11/massive-explosion-at-a-military-base-in-cyprus/, http://www.euronews.net/2011/07/11/cyprus-blast-described-as-biblical-diaster/, http://www.euronews.net/2011/07/11/many-killed-in-explosion-at-cyprus-military-base/.

At least 12 people were killed in explosions which rocked the main Greek Cypriot naval base at Zygi, in the south of the island.  The official CNA news agency said five fire-fighters, four members of the Greek Cypriot National Guard, and two sailors were killed.  The Vassilikos power plant, the island’s largest electricity plant, and adjacent to the naval base, was also knocked out, causing widespread power cuts.

The radio said at least 30 people were also injured in the explosions, which it said occurred among weapons seized from an Iranian shipment aboard the Monchegorsk, a Cypriot-flagged vessel in 2009.  Two containers of explosive caught fire, a police spokesman said; there were 98 containers in the depot.

The fire brigade was called to a bush fire near the base at 04:24, and that the explosions followed at 05:50, after the fire spread into the naval base. Wildfires are a frequent problem in Cyprus in the tinder dry conditions created by the searing summer heat.

On July 11, it was officially announced that twelve people died, including the commanders both of the Cypriot navy, Andreas Ioannides, and of the Evangelos Florakis naval base, Lambros Lambrou, after 98 barrels containing confiscated Iranian explosives and other munitions caught fire.

Residents of the island called for a street protest in the capital Nicosia after it became clear that the government had repeatedly been warned that the arms depot was unsafe.  Police in riot gear fired several rounds of teargas outside the palace, a sprawling compound in central Nicosia, after crowds burst though an outer gate of the compound.  Chanting slogans demanding the resignation of the president, some demonstrators, including right-wing nationalists, threw stones at police guarding one compound exit.  Police responded with teargas and stun grenades.

A government spokesman said it had asked the United Nations to take the explosives off its hands, sending them to Germany, Malta or UN peace-keepers in Lebanon, but had been rebuffed.  However, cables revealed by WikiLeaks showed that the island’s political leaders rejected offers for help in disposing of the explosives from western powers, including the United States, Germany and Britain.  The defence minister, Costas Papacostas, said at the time that the material was “completely safe” and could be placed in residential areas without any risk.  He has now resigned, along with the head of the National Guard, which failed to act despite a number of smaller explosions at the base.  The National Guard also disclaimed responsibility for disposing of the munitions.

On July 16, the newspaper Phileleftheros published a document of the Ministry of Defence, according to which, at a general meeting on July 5 at the Ministry of Defence, the chief of the Logistics Directorate, Colonel George Georgiadis, informed the Minister of Defence, the chief of the National Guard, and the others present that on July 4 it was noticed that one of the 98 containers had been

damaged.  As a result, the doors of the container had been bent and opened, without breaking the locks.  The chief of the Logistics Directorate claimed that this damage was probably caused by an internal explosion. Colonel Georgiadis said there was no way to know in what condition the inside of the container was, as it contained 130 metal cans of explosive, and maybe some or all of them had exploded. Colonel Georgiadis proposed to spray water on the containers, twice or three times a day, in order to deal with the high temperatures.

It was also claimed that in a meeting of February 7, 2011, it had been agreed to send samples of the explosives to chemistry laboratories. According to the chief of the National Guard, the Logistics Directorate arranged to send four samples to the company Hellenic Defence Systems S.A.  However, the samples were not sent, because the company wanted first to acquire a necessary permit to import them, which had not been done until recently.

Representatives of the different services went to examine the containers on the morning of July 6, and everyone was surprised because, apart from the damaged containers, there was burnt gunpowder. Afterwards, they discussed about possible solutions and it was proposed to build a shelter or to spray water on the containers. Some expressed their fear that spraying water on the containers would be dangerous, and wondered who would take the responsibility of doing it. Colonel Georgiadis tried to assure them that there was no reason to be concerned.

It seems that the representative of the Fire Services reported that the burnt gunpowder was due to the increase of the temperature, caused by fungus, caused by the humidity.  They discussed spraying salt water, but the proposal was rejected by the representatives of the Fire Services, as it was considered dangerous to reduce the temperature with salt water.  During the visit of the committee, a photographer of the National Guard General Staff took photos of the containers to include them in the report to the Ministry of Defence.

11 July 2011 - Pakistan

110711-04 Sihala/Sahala area of Islamabad.  An explosion was reported at an arms depot near the Sihala area of Islamabad, killing at least one and wounding two others.  A correspondent for Express 24/7, a local news channel, said that three extremely powerful explosions took place, and that the area was engulfed in smoke.  The building housing the arms depot collapsed from the force of the blast.

Army sources said that the explosion occurred during a routine firing exercise at the depot, when a shot was accidentally fired which led to a short circuit.  The short circuit resulted in the explosion.  However, Faisal Memon, a senior police official in the area, said: “It was an accidental blast.  An explosive device exploded when a few people were handling it inside an army depot”.

Another police official, Basharat Ali, said the roof of a barracks collapsed: “It was a small room being used by army personnel as a residential barracks.  Explosives were also stored there, which exploded and injured three. The injured are being shifted to a military hospital”.

12 July 2011 - Russia

110712-12 Snegovaïa Pad, Vladivostok.  Two persons were killed and two injured in the explosion of a shell discovered by Uzbek workers at a building site on the site of a munitions depot.  According to a press release by police of the Primorsky krai [region], the workers were trying to defuse the shell so as to be able to sell the scrap metal.

14 July 2011 - Mexico

110714-05 Monterrey, Monterrey state.  An explosion of a gas grenade at facilities that are used by cadets at the State Investigations Agency in down-town Monterrey left at least 50 people with symptoms of poisoning.  The incident was reported around 16:10, and so far mobilized tens of Municipal and Federal Police, rescuers from the green and red crosses, and Monterrey State Civil Protection.

According to early reports, a gas grenade was apparently accidentally detonated at the top of the facilities, which caused the cadets to immediately leave the place and concentrate on an outdoor parking place. The site was covered in broken glass, apparently windows broken by the students to try to ventilate the gas that had been released.

23 July 2011 - Mexico

110723-02 Sanctórum de Lázaro Cárdenas, Tlax-cala.  The State Institute of Civil Protection (IEPC) responded to a report of an explosion at 11:40 in a magazine, identified by registration number 793 with the Secretary of National Defense (SEDENA) on behalf of Petra Candelaria Pérez Olvera. Mateo Morales Baez, director of the IEPC, said that so far unknown causes led to the incident, but there will be experts from the Attorney General (PGR) who will determine what happened.  He said that the incident caused the death of five, and injured three.  The Civil Protection Director reported that nearby magazines had their roofs damaged by the blast due to the explosion.

3 August 2011 - Switzerland

110803-05-A Walenstadt (SG). Four soldiers were injured – two severely – in an explosion at the Walenstadt training ground.  The incident happened during a refresher course for explosives specialists.  Daniel Reist, an army spokesman, said the accidental explosion occurred during the handling of an explosive charge.

On August 4, ATS, the principal Swiss news agency, incorrectly reported that all four soldiers – three men and one woman – were out of danger, though one remained in a critical state.  A mixture of 1,5 kg of TNT and plastic explosive, typically used for breaking open doors, exploded during an exercise.  Martina Hugentobler, a military justice spokeswoman, said the preliminary evidence gathering for an explosives accident would take several weeks or months.  She said that because a technical defect cannot be ruled out, all explosives exercises by the army were suspended for safety reasons.

8 August 2011 - Australia

110808-12-A Koorangang Island, New South Wales. Orica Mining Services.  Orica, an explosives manufacturer, shut down its ammonium nitrate plant following a leak involving hexavalent chro-mium.  Orica Mining Services stated its regret that it did not immediately notify authorities following the hexavalent chromium leak from the Koorangang Island plant at approximately 18:15, which is believed to have exposed 20 workers to the chemicals. The New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage was informed of the leak on August 9 and subsequently shut the plant down.

Local resident were outraged that authorities did not inform them of the situation until August 11, instead carrying out letterbox drops and door knocks.  The letterbox drop included a government information sheet warning of potential health risks to the community and advising ways to minimise contamination.

Orica Mining Services general manager James Bonner said the company was initially focused on containing the spill, but added that authorities should have been contacted immediately, adding: “We regret that. It’s clearly something, part of our incident review, an investigation will be trying to understand why authorities weren’t notified sooner.  But the following morning they were notified, ensuring that they were briefed on what has occurred".

On August 15, Orica spokeswoman Nicole Ekert said the release of hexavalent chromium took place during start-up at the ammonia plant.  Ms Ekert said: “Orica has no licence to emit chrome VI from the vent system concerned and has not ever discharged chrome VI from this discharge point in the 40-year operation of the site.  The potential cause of the incident is still to be investigated".  Ms Ekert said chromium was used as a catalyst: “The chrome is mostly in the more benign chrome III form, but during the catalyst formulation process, some chrome VI – less than 1per cent of total catalyst weight – remains.  During the start-up of the ammonia process the chrome in the catalyst is normally all converted to chrome III where it remains in service in this state for a period of about five years or until the catalyst is exhausted".

11 August 2011 - USA

110811-01 Wasilla, AK.  A truck carrying ammonium nitrate crashed and overturned.  Central Mat-Su Deputy Chief Michael Keenan said: “As far as injuries, there were no injuries, very little product as far as hazmat got on the ground.  The stuff that was involved, luckily, was stable.  It’s a very safe and stable product.  It has to be mixed with a fuel before it will readily explode".  He said fire-fighters worked so quickly to contain the 10 to 15 gallons of diesel fuel mixed with motor oil that spilled out of the truck’s engine and fuel tank when it tipped.

The ammonium nitrate never got out of the shipping container it was in, Keenan said: “It was still in the [shipping container], so we felt pretty comfortable about it.  The company that was shipping it was on scene pretty quickly and removed the blasting caps that were in a different part of the truck".  Keenan said the department called out its hazardous materials response truck and surrounded the spilled fuel with dirt then soaked it up with absorbent pads.

12 August 2011 - India

110812-03 Kukatpally, Hyderabad. IDL.  A 57-year-old technician died in a chemical explosion while operating a machine at IDL factory in Kukatpally. Police said that at around 13:30 the technician was working on a specialised machine used for making detonators, when the chemical used in making explosives exploded and he suffered severe burn injuries leading to his death.

Kukatpally police inspector S Pradeep said: “The company officials informed us that Janardhan was the only person working on the machine installed in a separate room.  After the accident, a huge sound was heard and Janardhan succumbed to burn injuries.  The reason for the explosion is still not known since experts have to come and analyse what went wrong".

The factory is located at an isolated place and no name was seen at the entrance. Deputy commis-sioner Neelam P Kasni told regional media that the administration could neither identify nor establish any contact the factory owner. She said: “Due to festival of Janamshatmi there was a little scope that several more workers were present in the factory at that time. However a team of policemen is at the spot to search if more workers are trapped under the debris.” She said that full inquiry would be conducted to ascertain cause of blast, functioning of the cracker factory, safety features etc.

22 August 2011 - USA

110822-09 Elk River, MN. ATK Advanced Weapons.  A fire at an explosives-making plant in Elk River was contained, with no injuries reported.  The fire was reported around 07:30 inside a containment building at ATK Advanced Weapons. Multiple engines were called to the scene and the fire was contained and crews cleared by 10:00.

23 August 2011 - Russia

110823-04-A Ashuluk base, Astrakhan region.  Six Russian soldiers were killed and another 12 injured by an explosion during the disposal of ammunition at a firing range.  Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said in a press statement that a commission, led by Southern Military District Commander General Alexander Galkin, had been ordered to the scene at the Ashuluk firing range.  Criminal and military investigators were dispatched to the explosion site, which is located in the southern region of Astrakhan.

On August 24, Russian sources described the base as an anti-aircraft missile facility.  A spokesman for military prosecutors in the Southern Military District said investigators were “not ruling out any version, but the violation of safety rules during destruction of old ammunition remains a priority one”.  A source in the Astrakhan police also claimed that the ammunition had been mishandled, but did not elaborate.

24 August 2011 - Ivory Coast

110824-11 Daloa. The inhabitants of Daloa panicked on hearing explosions between 22:20 and 23:20 coming from the compound of the Second Infantry Battalion, quartered in the town.

At midnight, Lieutenant Colonel Doumbia Bakari, Commandant of the Second Legion of Gendarmerie and Colonel Kouakou Kra, Second in Command of the Second Military Region, spoke on local radio, calling for calm.  Colonel Kra said: “Around 22:20, munitions stored in a room of troops of the 3rd Company, 2nd Battalion of Infantry, began to explode.  Certainly, these munitions have been subject to some influence.  It was not a powder store that exploded, otherwise the damage would have been enormous".

Traoré Karim, a volunteer soldier, was killed by a shell, even though he was 500m from the building.  Five other soldiers were injured, of which the most serious was Zongo Bernard, whose lower jaw was torn off.  He died later in hospital.  Ten troop buildings were damaged at the scene of the explosion and one building 500m away was destroyed.  Colonel Doumbia Bakari said he thought the explosions might have been triggered by a short circuit, explaining: “You know, when current comes in contact with munitions, there is what we call in military parlance the sympathy effect, which can only lead to explosions. The loud noises that you heard were probably rockets that were stored with the other munitions".

According to local media, the store-room where the initial fire broke out contained 141 shells of type LRM, which are multiple rocket projectors.

31 August 2011 - France

110831-06 Bergerac (Dordogne – 24).  Bergerac NC SA (BNC), a subsidiary of SNPE.  An explosion occurred shortly before noon at BNC, a site classified as High-level Seveso, in a workshop being dismantled.  The incident occurred in building “DC”, formerly used for drying nitrocellulose.  The disconnection of a pipe containing nitrocellulose residues caused the explosion, which caused no material damage, but injured six employees.  The entire site is being dismantled.  It was noted that, even when the factory was operating at full production, such explosions were rare.

14 September 2011 - Croatia

110914-10 Padjene near Knin.  A fire that engulfed a military barracks in Padjene was contained, but remained active on September 15. Some 40 firemen and 15 vehicles remained in the area, with several local roads and railways closed to traffic.  Around 200 residents were evacuated overnight from the surrounding areas after fire detonated ammunition and grenades stored in the barracks.

Minister of Health Darko Milinovic and Croatia’s President Ivo Josipovic attended a meeting of the crisis centre formed in Knin, where it was decided to test the area for radioactivity.  The President said that the soldiers who are normally in the barracks were miraculously saved and that the most important thing is that there are no casualties.

14 September 2011 - Iraq

110914-11 Chawig, Halabja, Kurdish Iraq. An unexploded rocket carrying chemical warheads, dating back to the 1980s Halabja chemical bombardment, was discovered during excavations in the Chawig resort area in Halabja town.  Halabja’s Department of Health announced that eight people, including the director of the Health Department, were contaminated after the discovery of the rocket during excavation work.

Halabja Health Department director Adel Karim told “Alsumaria News”:  “One of the hospitals in town received seven cases of chemical contamination.  Those affected are workers and staff from the Municipality who were searching for the remains of a military aircraft that crashed after the chemical bombardments in March of 1988".  He noted that severe cases of skin rash were prevalent.  Karim said: “The Department of Health conducted tests on the rocket and the injured and sent the cases to the Ministry of Health in Kurdistan region and the Ministry of Health in Baghdad for final testing".

Halabja Mayor Goran Adham said: “Town officials already had information about the rocket as teams from the Municipality and an excavator driver saw it by chance while digging in an area of Chawig, a resort site in Halbja town, where a public park will be built.  After the rocket was found, the project was stopped and higher government officials were informed of the case.  Adham asked related agencies to carefully deal with the case since chemical content of the unexploded rocket has a-ready spread in the town.  Town residents who re-member the 1988 chemical bombardment mostly say that the content of the rocket must be chemicals since it has the same smell of the chemical bombs with which the former Iraqi regime attacked the town.

Halabja is a Kurdish town in northern Iraq, located about 240 km (150 miles) northeast of Baghdad and 15km from the Iranian border.  On March 16, 1988, after two days of conventional artillery attacks, Iraqi aircraft dropped gas canisters on the town.  At least 5,000 people died as an immediate result of the chemical attacks and it is estimated that a further 7,000 people were injured or suffered long-term illnesses.  Most of the victims of the attack on the town of Halabja were Kurdish civilians; some still suffer debilitating illnesses.

9 September 2011 - Georgia

110909-03 Tkibuli, western Georgia. Georgian Industrial Group, Saknakhshiri. A miner died after a blasting operation apparently went wrong in a coal mine in Tkibuli, western Georgia.  A senior executive from the coal mine operator company, Saknakhshiri, in charge of safety, said the incident was caused by violation of procedures and that the details would be known after the full investigation.

Tamaz Dolaberidze, president of the metallurgical, mining, chemical industry workers trade union, said that according to preliminary information the miner apparently died in an improperly carried out underground blast operation.  He said the miner was not in a safe place when the blast occurred.  This was the fourth fatal incident in the Tkibuli mine over past eighteen months.

12 September 2011- Turkey

110912-03-A Kocaeli. Polar Chemical Industry Inc. One worker was injured when a fire broke out around 11:00 in the storage area for “judicial nitrocellulose” at a chemical factory in the north-western province of Kocaeli, about 90 km east of Istanbul.  The fire spread rapidly as chemical storage tanks exploded in succession.  Fire-fighting teams from Kocaeli and neighbouring towns were sent to the site, but they were forced to tackle the fire from a distance because of the continued explosions.  Kocaeli Governor Ercan Topaca said it was dangerous because of the great number of chemical storage tanks in the vicinity, adding that he had requested Istanbul to send helicopters to help fire fighting.  Train services near the factory were suspended.

15 September 2011 - China

110915-10 Nanyan village, Fenyang city, Shanxi province.  Three people died after an explosion in a rural home in Shanxi province.  The accident happened at around 18:30.  According to an investigation by the provincial public security department, trade in illegal civilian explosives was to blame for the accident.  It did not provide further details.  Three houses were also ripped apart in the blast.  The three dead include the person suspected of being responsible for the explosion, said a demolition expert from the public security department.

24 September 2011 - Libya

110924-02 Tripoli.  A navy armoury in an eastern suburb of Tripoli exploded.  Loud explosions occurred, and heavy smoke was seen rising from the blast-hit area.  According to local residents, the site is an arms depot near a naval base.  Roads leading to the area were closed to the public by armed members of the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC), who insisted that it was a burning accident on a ship near a port, about 2 km from downtown Tripoli.

Later, Abdel Basset Hussein, a fighter for Libya’s National Transitional Council told AFP: “This was just an accident. The weapons store exploded by itself. This was not caused by anyone".  Workers from the yard said they believed it had been caused by an electrical fire and said fuel, paint and munitions had been engulfed by the blaze.

26 September 2011 - Sri Lanka

110926-06-A Weerawila, in southern Sri Lanka. An explosion at an ammunition dump in the Weerawila Army Camp ignited a major fire, which was still burning with intermittent explosions of ammunition the next day.  Military spokesman Brigadier Nihal Hapuarachchi said that the camp, situated at the former Sanasuma tourist hotel, once owned by the late Lankan film legend Gamini Fonseka, was occupied by the 14th Gajaba Regiment.  He said that a small arms ammunition dump caught fire.  Two other ammunition dumps situated in the same camp, however, had been spared as they were situated some distance apart.  The reason for the low number of casualties among men in the camp was that they were billeted away from the armouries, Brig. Hapuarachchi said.

Senior Superintendent of Police Tangalle Division C.E. Vidisinghe, who was at the scene, said the camp was evacuated along with civilians living in the vicinity. He said, according to available information, the explosion had occurred while the officer/soldier in charge of the particularly dump had gone into it with two others. However, the other two had come out just before the blast, but they had suffered some injuries and were receiving treatment at the Debarawewa Hospital. The fate of the man in charge, who went in, was not yet known.

On September 28, it was reported that the Army had found a charred body of a soldier at the explosion site. Brig. Hapuarachchi said the solider had gone to the ammunition dump to collect several rounds of ammunition for a firing exercise due to be held in the camp on the evening when the explosion had taken place.

Army Chief Jagath Jayasuriya appointed a five-member committee headed by a Brigadier to investigate the explosion, adding: “We still do not know what happened and how he was killed".  He said that the victim was identified as Private Anthony of the Gemunu Regiment. He was a resident of Payagala.

30 September 2011 - Bosnia

110930-05 Konjic, Herzegovina. Igman Co.  At least one person was killed and several workers were injured in a series of explosions at an ammunition factory in Bosnia’s southern town of Konjic. Regional police spokesman Srecko Bosnjak said police were not able to get to the site because it was filled with smoke and gases.  Bosnjak said the first explosion at the Igman factory, which produces and exports small arms ammunition, occurred at 06.30 and more explosions could follow.

Bosnian media reported that the first explosion occurred about half an hour from the arrival of the first shift of workers, and was followed by six further explosions.  Civil Protection officials said that the first ignition occurred in large quantities of gunpowder, and the series of explosions probably was not caused by human error.

Igman was part of the military industry of former Yugoslavia.  It was built in 1950, and for years was one of the largest manufacturers of 5.56 to 12.7 mm ammunition in Europe.  The now privately-run plant generated about $2 billion per year before the 1991-99 Balkan wars.

6 October 2011 - Germany

111006-09-A Karlsruhe, Baden-Württemberg.  Three workers were injured in a Second World War fragmentation bomb explosion at a recycling company in Karlsruhe.  The explosive device went off as the men delivered rubble into a crushing machine.  The worker who operated the plant, was burned on his face and hands.   Two more suffered a blast injury and were taken to hospital.

The recycling plant was severely damaged by the explosion, but the amount of damage has not yet been quantified.  The unexploded bomb was expected to be of American origin. Officials of the weapons disposal service began searching the remaining rubble, looking for more explosive devices.

Although referred to in the media as “cluster bombs”, these were not cluster bombs in the modern sense.  These were small – 20 pound – anti-personnel fragmentation bombs that were dropped in a cluster which broke up in the air.  They were designed to explode on impact.

On October 8, it was reported that the explosive ordnance disposal service thought it was rather unlikely that the bomb came from a construction site at the Ettlinger Tor, and removed work restrictions from the site.  Furthermore, the injured worker was not so badly burned as first thought.  According to initial estimates, losses caused were between €500,000 and one million.

23 October 2011 - Latvia

111023-05 Adazi, near Riga.  One member of the Latvian Home Guard was killed and eight injured in an explosion at the Adazi training grounds outside Riga.  17th Anti-aircraft Defence Battalion soldier Ilmars Mitenbergs died of his wounds in hospital.  Two more men remained in a critical, but stable condition.

National Armed Forces Commander Raimonds Graube ordered an immediate investigation into the explosion, which occurred while soldiers were running drills with anti-aircraft missiles.  Army spokesman Normunds Stafeckis said that the explosion took place at the end of a training exercise as the soldiers gathered for a debriefing before going home, adding: “What exploded, why it exploded, will be explained".

23 October 2011 - USA

111023-06 New Philadelphia, PA.  A fire destroyed a home and critically injured its owner.  The man was flown to Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest to be treated for burns that covered approximately 90 percent of his body, 55 percent being third-degree burns.

As the investigation into the fire continued, a large supply of firearms was recovered from the rubble.  Good Intent Assistant Fire Chief Ed Slane said 134 firearms with ammunition and large amounts of cash were recovered from the site.

Slane said the fire could have started anywhere because there was so much stuff in the house: “This was not a normal fire. We had to pull stuff out of the windows so that we could get into the house. There was so much stuff in the house".  Slade said the fire department received the call at 23:15, and arrived at the scene to see flames coming from the windows and two neighbours giving the occupant CPR in front of the property.

26 October 2011 - Pakistan

111026-04 Mamozai area, Upper Orakzai Agency.  Four people were killed and two others were injured in an explosion at an arms dealer shop in Upper Orakzai Agency.  According to security sources, the explosion took place in the Mamozai area and the market was cordoned off after the explosion.  The local administration official confirmed that four people were killed in the incident.  He also confirmed that two people injured in the explosion were being provided with medical treatment.

27 October  2011 - USA

111027-07 Palm Bay, FL. A crash between a motorcycle and a van carrying ammunition caused a fire.  The motorcyclist was seriously injured in the accident, reported just before 22:00.  The crash ruptured a fuel tank and ignited a fire.  When fire-fighters from Palm Bay Fire-Rescue arrived, the van was 25 percent engulfed with flames. Witnesses heard popping sounds and at least one explosion.  Police officers quickly moved people away from the crash site, but the ammunition did not pose a significant threat.

Gasoline from the motorcycle caught fire and ignited the van’s engine compartment. The van’s driver, who had just purchased a few boxes of ammunition, was not hurt. No one was burned.

28 October 2011 - Taiwan

111028-07-B Yuanshan Township, Yilan County. Ministry of National Defence.  An explosion occurred as personnel were destroying flash grenades at a military arsenal in Yilan County, leaving seven people with life-threatening burns.  The patients were first rushed to three local hospitals for treatment before being transferred to Tri-Service General Hospital’s intensive care unit in Neihu, Taipei, and put on artificial respirators.

Dai Nianntzyy, a physician at the Tri-Service General Hospital, said that six of the victims suffered burns covering 70 to 99 percent of their bodies.  The seventh, a military officer, sustained complications from burns covering up to 50 percent of his body and an open fracture of his lower limbs.  All seven suffered inhalation burns, causing serious damage to their lungs.  An eighth individual injured less severely in the explosion was being treated by the hospital’s regular burns unit.

The explosion occurred at 09:15 as personnel at the arsenal were destroying a batch of flash grenades, but the cause of the accident is still unknown, according to a Ministry of National Defence statement.  In the wake of the explosion, Minister of National Defence Kao Hua-chu immediately instructed the arsenal to suspend all operations pending an investigation.  The military has also set up a task force to investigate the incident.

On October 29, the Ministry of National Defence (MND) ordered a further investigation into the explosion, after a preliminary report failed to identify the cause.   A preliminary investigation by the MND concluded that the explosion occurred as military personnel tried to remove the top of a grenade. Friction between chemicals is said to have ignited the flash agent, causing the explosion.

On October 29, one of the eight people injured died at home after her family had her discharged from the hospital against medical advice.  The deceased suffered multiple organ failures and burns covering 90 percent of her body, according to the Tri-Service General Hospital in Neihu, Taipei, where the explosion victims were being treated.

October 31, military prosecutors began an investigation into the cause of the explosion that left two people dead –

suggesting a second death – and six injured.  The MND said in a news release that military prosecutors invited experts from the Criminal Investigation Bureau, the National Fire Agency, the Central Police University and the Society of Explosives and Propellants to the scene of the explosion to collect evidence and make a forensic study of the site.

Meanwhile, Liu Fu-long, director of the Armaments Bureau, apologized on behalf of the ministry to the relatives of the victims and the public for the blast.  He extended the apology at a news conference convened by ruling Kuomintang legislators who questioned whether the destruction of a batch of flash grenades had been conducted according to standard procedure.  “The operation conformed with the standard procedure, which was written 10 years ago and has been revised and adjusted every year,” he said.

1 November 2011 - China

111101-04-B Fuquan city, Guizhou province.  Eight people were confirmed dead and 218 injured – nine critically – in an explosion near a fuel station in southwest China.  The accident happened at about 11:30, when two trucks loaded with about 70 tonnes of explosives exploded in front of a motor vehicle testing station in the city of Fuquan. Windows shattered in nearby houses, and cars parked near the site were severely damaged.  A nearby grain warehouse was also seriously dam-aged.

A witness told state media that the testing station was destroyed and a neighbouring five-storey residential building was severely damaged.  A spokesman with the local rescue headquarters said about 200 people were rushed to hospital, 20 of them in critical condition.  More than 50 students and seven teachers were among the over 200 people injured.

More than 6,000 students from six schools had their classes suspended because the schools were damaged by the nearby explosion.  Four primary schools and two middle schools were closed as the buildings may have been compromised by the explosion. The city government has earmarked 5 million yuan ($787,065) for the relocation of those whose houses were damaged, medical treatment and other blast-related expenses.

On November 3, it was reported that an initial investigation revealed that the two trucks loaded with explosives were illegally parked, and failed to transport their cargo in the proper fashion.  The two vehicles belonged to a local transportation company in Fuquan.  The Ministry of Public Security sent experts from Henan and Hunan provinces to participate in an investigation of the accident.

On November 5, it was reported that another injured person had died, bringing the death toll to nine.  Four of the 219 injured people remained in critical condition, while 81 had been discharged.

2 November 2011 - Pakistan

111102-06 Skardu, Baltistan. Up to 25 people were injured when explosive material stored in a house blew up after catching fire.  Superintendent of Police (SP) Sultan Azam said: “The explosives belonged to a contractor who used them for construction purposes and he has been taken into custody".  He explained that the police were investigating the cause of the fire and the quantity of explosives could not be ascertained.  According to the police, a liquefied petroleum gas cylinder also exploded in the incident.  Sources at the Skardu District Hospital said that most of the injured suffered from minor injuries and were discharged after treatment.  According to eye-witnesses, the people injured in the incident were attending a wedding at an adjacent house.  They rushed to the spot to extinguish the fire, and were injured in the process.

4 November 2011 - Venezuela

111104-04 Puerto Ayacucho, Amazonas state.  Twenty-eight government troops were injured when a grenade exploded during a drill.  The accident took place at a navy unit in the south-eastern district of Puerto Ayacucho in the state of Amazonas, and was believed to have been caused by the mishandling of explosive devices by a group of young soldiers who were recently recruited.  The accident occurred in the Séptima Brigada de Infantería de Marina Fluvial G/B Franz Rísquez around midday.

The majority of the injured soldiers were taken to Jose Gregorio Hernandez Hospital in Puerto Ayacucho, while four seriously injured soldiers were airlifted to Caracas for special treatment.

6 November 2011 - Germany

111106-07 Trittau, Schleswig-Holstein.  Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH. Fire broke out at two widely separated places at the Rheinmetall factory.  At 05:30, a security guard noticed a glow, visible through dense fog, in a powder mixing plant.  He alerted the emergency services and informed the plant manager.  An employee of the company arrived almost simultaneously with the first forces of volunteer fire-fighters from Trittau.

First, Trittaus community fire chief Tismer Clemens with two employees reconnoitred the premises to get an estimate of the extent of the fire and its location.  Tismer explained: “We have a plan of the premises on which can be seen the objects in which explosive materials are stored or where they are processed.  And we have an agreement with management for years that in an emergency we do it without consulting with the company".  The team leader of the first group, while wearing breathing apparatus, cautiously moved forward and found two fires about ten metres apart.  In one place, flames burst from the roof, in the other the flames were at the front of the building.

The Lütjensee fire-fighters set up a water curtain to protect other buildings with explosives in front of the flames. Since, according to the department manager was no danger of explosion, they could now begin extinguishing the fire.  According to initial findings of the police at the time of the fire out-break, only packaging materials were affected.  Whether the state criminal office in Kiel will consider the investigation itself is still open.

11 November 2011 - USA

111111-07 Buttonwillow, CA. Tiger Oil Field Service.  Kern County fire-fighters and hazmat teams were sent out after an oilfield exploration truck that was carrying explosives caught fire, shutting down part of Interstate 5.  Fire-fighters said that when they arrived, they heard an explosion and immediately secured the area.  The driver of the truck told emergency responders that there were detonators and explosives inside the vehicle.   The fire was quickly extinguished and the roads were reopened about 15:20.   There were no reported injuries.

12 November 2011 - Iran

111112-01-A Village of Bid Ganeh, about 40 km (25 miles) west of Tehran. Amiralmomenin Garrison.  At least 17 persons were killed in an explosion around 13:00 in a military base belonging to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).  Brig. Gen. Ramezan Sharif, a spokesman for the force, told state television that twenty-seven Guards personnel were killed in the explosion, adding that some of those injured were in critical condition.  Sharif initially said 27 people had been killed, but later revised that figure down to 17.

According to various media reports, the explosion occurred shortly after 13:00 in an ammunition depot at the base in Bid Ganeh. Sharif said: “Initial investigations show the blast occurred as ammunition was being moved".   Sharif denied what he said was speculation in the Western media that the military base was linked to Iran’s nuclear programme, saying: “This blast is not related to any nuclear tests that some foreign media have reported".

The deputy head of the national security commission, Esmaeel Kosari, said parliament would open an investigation into the explosion, but Hossein Garousi, a lawmaker from the area, ruled out the blast being the result of “an act of sabotage or in any way political”.   There were no reports linking the blast to any air strike or other attack.

Some media reported that there had been two explosions, and the head of Iran’s Red Crescent organisation said there was a risk of further explosions.   Hossein Derakhshan from the Iranian Red-Crescent said three aid groups with sniffer dogs had been sent to the location.

The quasi-official Fars news agency reported that among the dead was Revolutionary Guards commander Hassan Tehrani Moqadam, a rocket expert and specialist in long-range missile research. Moqadam taught at the Imam Hussein University, which is affiliated with the elite Guards Corps.  Sharif denied what he said were Western media reports that the accident had involved a nuclear warhead, saying the incident had nothing whatsoever to do with a

nuclear test.

12 November 2011 - Bulgaria

111112-05-A Sevlievo.  The press office of Sevlievo Municipality announced that around 09:00 two strong explosions were heard in the area between the town of Sevlievo and the village of Lovnidol.  The depots were isolated by security forces, and workers and animals at a nearby equestrian centre were evacuated.  There was no information about injured people.  There were no radioactive or chemical substances in the warehouses, and no risk of gas pollution.  After-blasts were still being heard in the former military warehouses.

According to initial information, the storehouses no longer belong to the Bulgarian military, but rather to a private company, tasked with destroying Soviet-era incendiary munitions.  According to Chief Secretary of the Interior, Kalin Geogiev, the former military store where the explosions occurred had about 3,000 152mm shells.

On November 13, occasional explosions were still occurring in the former military munitions depots.  Denislav Donkov, director of Gabrovo District Police Directorate, said the latest one was registered at 16:00.  He said it was planned that a robot will enter the depots on November 14.  Measurements of air quality showed that all indexes were within the norm and there was no threat of elevated levels of harmful substances.

According to initial reports, the six warehouses belong to a private, Sofia-based company.  They were purchased in 2008 and later renovated.  Only one contained munitions.  The facilities comply with all norms for safe storage of explosives and munitions, police said, pointing out there are no radioactive substances inside.

12 November 2011 - Azerbaijan

111112-09 Bolsulu village, Beylagan region.  The Defence Ministry of Azerbaijan reported that a fire broke and munitions exploded in Bolsulu, a village of Beylagan region.  According to the report, the explosion happened due to a fire in one of the vehicles carrying munitions.  There were no injuries.  Groups of Military Prosecutors, MES, and other state bodies were operating on site.

15 November 2011 - USA

111115-02 Jamestown, PA. Combined Tactical Systems.  A spark from a machine in a building where tear gas and grenades are produced set off a fire at a munitions plant.  Jamestown fire officials said the building, known as a “gas house”, had a sprinkler system in place, but the system did not put out the fire.  However, Don Smith, chief executive of Combine Systems, said: “Our emergency procedures worked flawlessly, and everyone was accounted for quickly.  I’m very grateful to emergency services for responding quickly".

Fire-fighters from seven departments were sent to the facility shortly before 07:30. Seven employees in the building and about 160 others working else-where in the complex were evacuated without injury.  The fire was fully involved when fire-fighters arrived on the scene.  It took them about an hour to put the fire out.  Fire-fighters contained the flames to the 50-square-foot gas house.  Extra caution was taken in extinguishing the fire because of two 50-gallon barrels of acetone within 15 feet of the building.  Jamestown Fire Chief Mike Cadman said the tear gas produced in the building was contained to ovens that were not affected by the fire, and the chemicals released during the fire proved only a mild irritant to fire-fighters.  The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is still investigating potential consequences of the chemical release, but fire officials said it should have no effect on the surrounding communities.

Combined Systems Inc. produces chemical munitions, impact munitions and flash-bang devices, according to information on the company’s website.

27 Dec 2011 - Serbia

101227-05-A Cacak. An explosion occurred around 16:30 at the Sloboda military factory in the central city of Cacak, but nobody was injured. All workers were evacuated as soon as smoke was seen pouring out of the storage room. Heavy black smoke and flames were seen at the site. The Defence Ministry said the explosion probably occurred in the storage room.

Head of Ministry of Interior (MUP) Emergency Situations Sector Predrag Maric noted that the storage depot was isolated from the production plants, and that “there should not be any dead, unless some of the workers happened to be at the spot”. Maric said that “expert teams from that Sector are on the scene, but still cannot approach the object” in which, according to the official, some “lethal supplies” are stored. Details will be determined once the expert teams enter the depot. Detonations were still being heard 45 minutes after the first explosion.

On December 28, Predrag Maric said the detonations had stopped, while the fire had been extinguished. He added that the fire-fighting and rescue teams had finished their tasks, so now the investigation could begin by the court and other competent bodies to find out the reasons of the disaster. The damage is estimated at around €10 million. The fire broke out in an ammunition warehouse covering 2,000 square metres, were 20, 30 and 40 mm ammunition was kept.

FOLLOW-UP

USA, 7 January 2010 - Explosion at Texas Tech University.

A-100107-16 Lubbock, TX. Texas Tech University (TTU).   On October 19, the CSB released its final report into the January 7, 2010, chemistry laboratory explosion at Texas Tech University, recommending that the American Chemical Society develop new hazard evaluation guidelines for laboratories and calling on OSHA to issue a Safety Bulletin on the importance of controlling the physical hazards of chemicals in academic laboratories.

The accident occurred during the handling of explosive compounds and resulted in serious injuries to a graduate student.  The case study identifies systemic [sic] deficiencies in safety accountability and oversight by the principal investigators [Whose, the CSB’s or OSHA’s?], the chemistry department, and the university administration at Texas Tech. Furthermore, according to investigators there were also important gaps beyond the university itself, gaps which are addressed in the CSB’s safety recommendations.

In January 2010, two graduate students at Texas Tech University were conducting research funded by the US Department of Homeland Security on energetic or explosive compounds; at the time of the accident a senior graduate student had been working on the project for about a year and was helping train a first-year graduate student. The students were tasked with synthesizing and performing tests on a new compound, a derivative of nickel hydrazine perchlorate (NHP). The two principal investigators for the research believed they had verbally [sic] established a 100 milligram limit on the production of energetic materials, but the CSB investigation found there was no formal system for communicating this limit or verifying compliance. Few of the graduate students interviewed during the investigation believed that a strict 100 mg limit existed.

The CSB found that. initially, the compound was made in small batches of less than 300 milligrams, but the two students were concerned about potential variability among different small batches of the compound which could affect later test results. They decided to scale up the synthesis to make a single batch of approximately 10 grams, enough for all of their testing. The graduate students believed that keeping the compound wet with a solvent would prevent it from exploding. After producing the larger batch, the more senior graduate student observed that it contained clumps that he believed needed to be broken up using a mortar and pestle prior to testing. As the pestle pressed against the compound, it detonated. The graduate student was seriously injured: his left hand severely damaged by the force of the explosion, causing the loss of three fingers, perforation of his eye, and cuts and burns to other parts of his body.

The CSB’s investigation determined there had been two previous near-misses within the laboratories of the same principal investigators since 2007. While no one was injured, CSB investigators concluded there were similarities in the causes of these previous incidents to the January 2010 explosion. But these key lessons [What were they?] were missed at the time of the earlier incidents. As a result of the investigation, the CSB recommended that Texas Tech revise and expand its Chemical Hygiene Plan to ensure the physical hazards of chemicals are identified and controlled. In addition, the CSB recommended that Texas Tech develop and implement an incident and near miss reporting system which should document and communicate lessons learned from all laboratory near misses and incidents.

The CSB is concerned with laboratory safety because, when compared to industry, it is an area that is unregulated and lacks good practice guidance, said Investigator Cheryl MacKenzie: “There is an OSHA laboratory standard requiring universities to create Chemical Hygiene Plans, but its focus is on exposure hazards and health hazards of the research work being conducted. We found that there is no comprehensive guidance for conducting hazard evaluations within the dynamic environment of academic research laboratories".  The CSB investigation identified six key lessons for universities and others, including calling on universities to:

• Ensure that research-specific hazards are evaluated and then controlled by developing specific written protocols and training.

• Expand existing laboratory safety plans to address the physical hazards of chemicals

• Ensure that safety personnel report directly to a university official who has the authority to oversee research laboratories and implement safety improvements

• Document and communicate all laboratory near-misses and incidents to educate individuals and track safety at the university.

Cyprus, 11 July 2011 - Fatal explosion of seized munitions

A-110711-02 Evangelos Florakis naval base, Zygi. On October 3, opposition political parties called for the resignation of the president Demetris Christofias, after an independent report said he carried “the main responsibility” for the fatal explosion.  Thirteen fire-fighters and naval personnel died when boxes of confiscated Iranian munitions stored at the base exploded following a bushfire.  The blast also demolished the island’s biggest power plant, knocking out half its electricity supply and causing more than €2 billion damage.

Polyvios Polyviou, a lawyer appointed by the government to investigate the accident, assigned most responsibility to the president since he held “overall control” of the munitions, which had been at the base for more than two years. According to the 640-page report, the president “took de facto crucial decisions on the issue … thereafter he failed to take all necessary measures to protect Cypriot citizens, especially armed forces personnel and fire-fighters”.

Mr Christofias, who is leader of the Communist party Akel, said he did not know that the 98 containers of munitions were liable to explode. On October 3 night he rejected the report’s findings, telling Communist supporters at a rally in Limassol that there was “no proof” of his responsibility.

According to foreign ministry documents quoted in the report, Mr Christofias personally assured Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president, during a meeting in 2009, that Cyprus would keep the containers until they could be delivered to Syria, their original destination.  Cyprus said it seized a Russian cargo ship carrying the munitions in 2009 in response to a US request that the ship was violating international sanctions against Iran.  However, Mr Christofias’ government later discouraged UN experts from visiting the base to examine the condition of the seized cargo. On three occasions, the Cyprus foreign ministry instructed its UN mission to delay their arrival, according to the report.

Source: 2 January 2012 / TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL

A blast took place at a military ammunition depot in the Central Anatolia province of Kirikkale on Monday.  The explosion occurred in the town of Yahsihan at around 12:43 a.m., and the ensuing fire was extinguished by fire crews.

The district governor of Yahsihan, Ahmet Ferhat Özen, told the Anatolia news agency that four workers were reported missing following the blast. Later, Kirikkale Governor Hakan Yusuf Güner told reporters that four workers had been missing after the explosion but later their bodies were found at the site.  The dead were identified as Salih Erkeç (43), Adnan Dagdeviren (46), Cezayir Çaliskan (30) and Samet Aygar (19).

A written statement published by the General Staff on its website, says the blast took place at 00:58 am on Monday.  It also mentioned that the cause is unknown, and experts are investigating the incident. The General Staff offered condolences to the victims' families and added that this incident will be examined and investigated thoroughly.

These families stayed at the scene of the incident to collect the bodies of their loved ones.  A Turkish Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation (MKEK) team arrived at the scene of the incident in the early morning, and they stayed at the depot for many hours to prevent any possible further explosion. Experts state that the depot is severely damaged and in an unusable state.

Demil Factory in Turkey: http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2007global_demil/GeneralSessionTuesday/T1420CourtneyGreen.pdf.