2 January - Turkey
120102-02 Central Anatolian Kirikkale province, Yahsihan district, Yahsihan. An explosion killed four workers in a four-storey building used as a munitions depot by the Turkish Armed Forces. The powerful explosion, which was heard from the Kirikkale city centre 25km away, occurred at 00:43. Military and municipal fire-fighters and numerous ambulances were dispatched to the munitions depot, which caught fire following the explosion. The area around the building was closed to civilians and non-essential rescue personnel because of the chemical materials burning in the fire. The bodies of the four workers on night watch in the building at the time of explosion were found after the fire was put out. A Turkish Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation (MKEK) team arrived at the scene of the incident in the early morning, and stayed at the depot for many hours to prevent any further explosion. Experts said that the depot was severely damaged and in an unusable state.
9 January - Spain
120109-09 Region of Murcia, Murcia. Explosivos Alaveses. Fire-fighters controlled a fire which occurred as a result of an explosion in a pressed powder magazine inside the Explosivos Alaveses factory, in the hamlet of Javalí Viejo. Director General of Emergency, Luis Gestoso, said the origin of the explosion was still unknown, but may have been “just one of those things”. Gestoso, accompanied by the Minister of the Presidency, Manuel Campos, explained that the fire was controlled, but there was a risk that there was a new explosion. The warehouse contained 12 tonnes of intermediate product, powder in preparation. In particular, five containers of material exploded. The blast blew the roof off the factory, which was closed from 07:00.
10 January - Bulgaria
120110-03 Near Plovdiv. Vazovski Mashinostroitelni Zavodi (VMZ) Sopot. Three workers were injured by an explosion at VMZ Sopot, Bulgaria’s largest military factory, but the lives of all of them were not in danger. Two of the injured suffered only minor wounds and were being treated in the local hospital, while a third was more severely injured, and was taken to a hospital in the nearby city of Plovdiv. The explosion was not occasioned by munitions, but occurred during a routine production process due to a malfunctioning of the equipment. Ivan Stoenchev, director of VMZ Sopot, confirmed that investigations into the incident were underway, which he described as not being abnormal. He also said that the most gravely injured worker’s life was completely out of danger, but that he needed to have particles removed that penetrated his skin due to the explosion.
11 January - Bulgaria
120111-04 Central Bulgaria, near the city of Gabrovo, village of Charkovo. A woman, 49, died and a man was injured in an explosion in an ammunition factory in the village of Charkovo, near the city of Gabrovo. The incident – the second incident involving explosives in two days – occurred around 08:00 while the two were handling some explosives. According to the Interior Ministry’s press centre there was no danger of further explosions. The woman died on the spot; the man was listed in the local hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The two were alone inside the space where the explosion occurred. The woman had been handling gunpowder, which exploded in her hands. Experts on detonations were examining the location, which is in the woods, far away from the city. The private company has foreign shareholders. Inspector Denislav Donkov, from District Police Directorate – Gabrovo, said violation of technological rules for separation of the component parts of ammunition, and improper treatment were the likely causes of the explosion.
25 January - Philippines
120125-02 Manila, suburban Taguig city. An artillery round accidentally exploded while a welder and police commandos tinkered with it with an acetylene torch, killing four people, including two policemen. Police Senior Superintendent Tomas Apolinario Jr. said ten other people, including another policeman, were wounded in the powerful explosion in a scrap metal shop in suburban Taguig city, where the police brought the shell, apparently to have it defused and opened. Investigators were trying to determine where the police got the artillery round, and why they brought it to an ironworks shop outside a police camp in Taguig instead of handing it to ordnance experts, who can safely defuse it, said Apolinario, who heads the Taguig police force, adding: “There was a procedural lapse in the way they handled this artillery round.” The sprawling police camp in Taguig, southeast of Manila, used to have a depot for unexploded munitions and old bombs, but a huge, accidental explosion at the site forced authorities to close it years ago. Apolinario said the policemen failed to defuse and open the artillery round with a wrench, prompting them to bring it to a welder.
25 January - Thailand
120125-03 Nakhon Sawan province, Payuhakiri district. Army Ordnance Directorate. A large fire broke out around 11:00 at an Army weapons depot in Nakhon Sawan province. After initially denying the incident, Army officials said there had been a fire, but said it caused no explosions or casualties. The incident was first reported before noon by amateur and CB radio operators, calling for donations of blood for people wounded in an explosion. The depot, supervised by the Army’s Ordnance Directorate, later issued a statement admitting that there had been a fire caused by phosphorus left in old wooden boxes. Two Army fire engines were dispatched from a nearby unit, and reportedly put out the fire. Depot officials said there were no injuries, and refused to give any other details. At 15:30, Army spokesman Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the fire started when phosphorous in a number of old wooden boxes used to store weaponry and munitions, and which had been prepped for destruction, combusted after being ex-posed to direct sunlight when the boxes were scattered outdoors. About 100 boxes were destroyed or damaged by the fire, and a building damaged. Sansern repeated a statement that there were no in-juries and that no weapons were destroyed or dam-aged, adding: “The Army commander has been in-formed of the incident and has issued no special or-der regarding the matter.” Prior to the fire, officials conducted a periodic check of weapons’ shelf lives. Those items whose service life had expired were removed, which were scattered outside in preparation for demolition.
10 February - Lebanon
120210-06-A Tripoli, Abi Samra neighbourhood. A munitions warehouse exploded in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, killing three Syrians. The state-run National News Agency (NNA) said that the Lebanese Army had been struggling to contain clashes that erupted between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the coastal city that morning. It was reported that the three victims, all security guards, lit a fire to warm themselves near containers that stored munitions, without being aware of the contents, causing an explosion at the privately run facility. NNA reported earlier: “A major explosion ripped through an arms depot belonging to Ghaleb B. near Al-Jinan University in Tripoli.” On February 11, Al-Mustaqbal Movement official Mustafa Allouch denied that the arms depot that exploded belonged to his party, noting: “It’s not un-usual that some sides always try to accuse us of lies.” Allouch denied the alleged accusations by deputy head of the Arab Democratic Party Rifaat Eid, adding: “We urge the competent authorities to follow up the incident and bring those responsible to the Lebanese judiciary.” According to local newspapers, the owner of the farm that witnessed the explosion denied knowing of the existence of such a depot on his property. Security forces said they were awaiting an improvement in the health of the wounded in the blast in order to begin investigations with them. On February 12, Future Bloc MP Mouin Merhebi held Syria and Hezbollah responsible for arms warehouses in North Lebanon’s Tripoli.
16 February - China
120216-11 Hebei Province, Tangxian County, Shangzhuang Village. Four people were killed and another was injured in an explosion as they were trading detonators illegally in north China’s Hebei Province. Tangxian County authorities said the explosion occurred around 12:40 in Shangzhuang Village. Initial investigation showed the five people were trading detonators when one device exploded accidentally. Four of them were killed instantly and another was injured. Officials said the injured man is now in hospital for treatment. The blast caused little property damage, and the police are investigating the case.
20 February - USA
120220-02-A PA, Jamestown. Combined Systems Inc. A fire broke out at the Combined Systems plant, which produces tactical munitions and crowd control devices, and was also the scene of a fire in November, 2011. [HInt 11-11a, 111115-02.] Chief Operating Officer Richard Edge said a fire broke out in one of the production buildings around noon. At least 10 people were working inside at the time, but no one was injured in the blaze. More than seven area fire departments responded to the fire, and although it was under control in a little more than an hour, fire-fighters remained on the scene throughout the afternoon. Edge said the fire most likely started with an equipment malfunction, but it was still too early to tell. He said standard safety procedure is to evacuate the whole complex in the event of a fire, so all of the more than 200 workers on site were evacuated, and then most were sent home for the day. On February 21, it was reported that the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) was investigating the fire at the tear gas plant that has been the target of Occupy protests and a cyber-attack by a hacker group in recent months. Special Agent Steven Bartholomew, a spokesman for the ATF, said that agency was taking the lead investigating the fire. Bartholomew said the fire probably started during a mixing process and involved an equipment malfunction, and there might have been an explosion before the fire. He said he was unsure what chemicals were being mixed.
22 February - India
120222-05-A Goa state, Vasco port. Mormugao Port Trust. Goa Shipyard Ltd. Five persons were injured when a shell exploded at a defence shipyard in the port town of Vasco. The shell had been recovered by a dredger vessel, used by Mormugao Port Trust at the Goa Shipyard, along with silt and dirt which was then emptied in a container. Superintendent of Police Arvind Gawas said workers at the shipyard tried to cut open the shell, whereupon it exploded. Five workers were injured in the explosion, and they were admitted to a local hospital. The condition of two of them was said to be critical, Gawas said. Indian Navy officials have visited the site and requested that the shell be sent to them for further examination. On February 23, three more shells, probably more than two decades old, were found in the mud inside the dredger being repaired at the Western India Shipyard dock port after four workers were injured in an explosion. The three shells have been sent to the naval armament depot in Dabolim while investigations are on. S M Paranjpe, chief inspector of factories and boilers inspectorate, said: “Action will be initiated against the management after the report regarding the incident is received from Mormugao police inspector.” He said the workers erred in not reporting the matter to the concerned authorities at the work-shop, but the management shares the blame in not supervising the work. The repairs apparently involved cutting out the corroded part of the vessel for replacement. During repairs, workers found a shell. The vessel had been stationed near Karwar beach before its arrival at Mormugao port. Sources said armament shells used in firing practice may have fallen on the sea bed and during dredging may have mixed with the mud, which remained stuck to the vessel.
26 February - Philippines
120226-08 Marikina City, Barangay Fortune. Arms Corporation of the Philippines (Armscor). A fire, believed to have been triggered by high ambient temperature, destroyed the storage room of a fire-arms and ammunition firm in Marikina City. Authorities were alerted to the fire at 13:45, when thick smoke billowed from the compound of Armscor, followed by a loud explosion. Arson investigator Senior Fire Officer 1 Noel Guiyab said that fire-fighters managed to contain the fire in the ware-house, although it reached the second alarm before it was put out at 14:27. Guiyab said: “There was also a fire wall around the warehouse, which prevented the spread of the fire to the residential houses nearby.” The fire destroyed gunpowder and other company equipment worth P1 million.
4 March - Republic of Congo
(See the Video)120304-01-B Brazzaville. At least 150 people were killed in a series of explosions which began shortly after 08:00 and continued into the early afternoon at a munitions depot in Brazzaville, and the death toll was expected to exceed 200. Panic spread across the city and as far as Kinshasa, the capital of the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, and at least 2000 people fled their homes. Both governments called for calm and said it was an accident. A hospital reported at least 237 people were wounded. Citing Defence Minister Charles Zacharie Bowao, state radio said the explosions had been caused by a fire in the arms depot in the Regiment Blinde [Fr. Armoured Regiment, Ed.] base, in the Mpila city zone. The explosions were set off by a fire in two munitions depots at the Mpila armoured brigade barracks, according to soldiers who declined to be named. A diplomat said that the incident “is not political and the president (Sassou Nguesso) is with the chief of staff to co-ordinate operations”. There was no official word from the government on the cause of the explosions, or damage sustained. A diplomat said fire-fighters were finding it hard to fight the fire because of continuing explosions. River traffic between Kinshasa and Brazzaville was suspended, a Kinshasa port official said. The Chinese state Xinhua news agency said about 140 Chinese workers from the Beijing Construction Engineering Group were working near the munitions depot when the blasts occurred. The dormitory building of China’s Huawei company was badly damaged, but there were no casualties reported there, Chinese officials said. Late on March 4, government spokesman Bienvenu Okyemi said the incident was caused by a short-circuit that led to a fire. The main fire was now under control, he said, though a number of buildings were still burning. However, French-language reports on March 6 said the fires were threatening a second underground munitions store less than 100m from the one that exploded. On March 6, state radio reported that at least 246 people had died. Police said international fire-fighters had brought the main blaze under control by that morning, and prevented it from spreading to a second munitions depot just 100m away. The second depot contained even heavier-calibre weapons, including multiple rocket launchers. It remained unclear whether rescue efforts could start in earnest, nearly three days after the first explosions. A military source said there were plans for the controlled destruction of the munitions in the second depot, which would delay any attempts to dig into the rubble to find possible survivors or bodies. On March 7, fears of further explosions still pre-vented rescuers from reaching any survivors of the explosion. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that unexploded shells still litter the area making it too dangerous for aid teams to search for survivors in the debris. According to the head of operations of the Mines Action Group (MAG) in Congo, Lionel Cattaneo, the Congolese authorities had been warned about the dangers of storing munitions in such a densely populated residential area. However the Congolese army, like those of many nations in a region prone to coups and armed uprisings, still prefers to keep the arms close at hand in case of any attempts to overthrow governments. Cattaneo said: “They’re scared they’ll have difficulties getting their munitions if they have genuine need of them. Clearly it was not ideal to keep them there. They were aware of the problems.” Cattaneo said the unwillingness of some African armies to get rid of obsolete munitions means the depots will remain a danger.
6 March - USA
120306-16 AZ, Apache Junction. Four people, including two children, were killed when a mobile home owned by a businessman who reloads ammunition for vintage and obsolete firearms caught fire. The owner was not believed to be among the victims. According to Dave Montgomery of the Apache Junction Fire Department, the mobile home caught fire about 21:30. A neighbour said she heard a loud boom and called the emergency services while her husband tried to kick down the door of the burning home. When fire-fighters arrived, they were told that people were trapped inside the mobile home, but the fire had engulfed the home, and they could not get inside. Fire-fighters extinguished the blaze after about 30 minutes and found the four victims near the doorway. Fire officials said a large quantity of ammunition exploded in the fire, but it did not pose a major threat to fire-fighters because most of it had been expended by the time they arrived. The trailer is listed in federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Fire-arms and Explosives licensing records as the registered address for a business called Shell Reloading, owned by Robert M. Shell. Shell is a firearms expert who has written several books and magazine articles on how to reload shells for antique or obsolete weapons.
7 March - Slovakia
120307-03-A Trencin region, Novaky. The accidental explosion of a grenade killed a Slovak soldier, seriously wounding two others, and slightly injuring a third. The incident occurred in a restricted military zone, forbidden to civilians, in the premises of the Military Maintenance Company (VOP) at the military base VOP Nováky. Trencín regional police spokeswoman Elena Antalová said the occurred while VOP workers were reviewing work in the military area. According to one source, the incident involved claims of missing ammunition. In autumn 2011, the Slovak Army stated that ammunition was missing, but it was not clear whether the missing materiel amounted to 2 or 200 kilograms. On March 7, three civilian employees and one army pyrotechnics ex-pert were stock-taking in the garrison at VOP when a grenade in a sealed case exploded, killing one civilian. The grenade was part of a series that the army had complained about, but which was later re-issued after supposed repairs. The men apparently had had no direct contact with the case – or grenade – before the explosion. One of the employees suffered only slight injuries and was treated on the spot; the other two were hospitalised with non-life-threatening injuries. On the evening of March 7, Prime Minister Iveta Radicová (Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ)), who is also the current acting defence minister, visited Nováky together with the chief of the General Staff, Peter Vojtek. She stayed for about an hour. After talks with Vojtek, she said – according to SDKU media – that all procedures and instructions ordered for stock-taking of ammunition were observed. Investigators do not know so far what caused the grenade, which was made in 1997, to explode. She recommended that Vojtek return this series of products to the producer and that further quality checks be carried out. Over the past five years, a series of incidents in the military base has left at least eight dead and 20 wounded. On March 2, 2007, a major explosion occurred at the same facility, in a building where old ammunition is destroyed. [HInt 07-03a, 070302-04.]
7 March - Peru
120307-04 Ayacucho region, province of Huanta, Corazonpata. The apparently accidental explosion of a grenade at a military base in the Ayacucho region, in south-east Peru, injured 10 soldiers. An army patrol was returning to base in Corazonpata, when a soldier accidentally activated a grenade that exploded and injured his companions. The Joint Command of the Armed Forces denied that it was a terrorist attack. Corazonpata base is in the Valley of the Apurimac and Ene Rivers (VRAE) where the army is fighting the remnants of the Sendero Luminoso [Shining Path] and drug cartels.
8 March - France
120308-05 Bouches-du-Rhône – 13, Marseille, La Joliette area. Two workers on a building site in the Port of Marseille were slightly injured by the deflagration of a bomb dating from the Second World War. According to a communiqué from the Préfecture of Bouches-du-Rhône: “The weight of the bomb was estimated at a tonne, so 650kg of explosive.” Around 10:40 a tracked rock-breaker cut the bomb in half, causing a small explosion which shocked the driver and the site foreman. The two men were taken to the Hôpital de la Conception in Marseille. Six vehicles and 25 marine fire-fighters were sent to the site.
8 March - USA
120308-08 TX, Spring. Spring Guns and Ammo. A fire that started at a shooting range was ruled accidental, according to officials with the Spring Fire Department. Around 17:30, the Spring Volunteer Fire Department got a call for fire from the Spring Guns and Ammo shooting range. When the first units arrived, heavy smoke was coming from the indoor range. While the fire was extinguished, Deputy Chief Scott Schoonover said several customers and employees had to be evacuated from the building. There were no injuries reported. After investigation, SFD officials determined that a customer was shooting a rifle inside the range, using ammunition that was prohibited by Spring Guns and Ammo. As the customer was shooting his rifle down the range, one of the rounds set the insulation along the back wall of the range on fire. While the customer was not in violation of the law, Schoonover said, he was in violation of the range policy, and the fire was ruled accidental.
13 March - India
120313-09 Assam state, Baksa district, Sukhanjuli area. A mortar explosion killed two persons and injured one at the Darranga field firing range in Sukhanjuli area of Baksa district. Two died on the spot, while another person was seriously injured when a mortar shell fired by army personnel during a field firing session at the range exploded near them. Defence PRO Lt Col S.S. Phogat, however, said the two died when an unexploded shell, which they were trying to retrieve to sell the metal casing as scrap, exploded. Such deaths are not new in the area, where residents of the villages in the periphery of the range often enter to collect unexploded shells, the copper casings of which fetch a good price in the local market. According to official data, apart from today’s incident, 19 civilians have lost their lives in the range in the past five years. Local sources put the number at over 50 in the past 10 years. Phogat said the district administration and the villagers in the vicinity of the range were informed of the dates of firing beforehand, but those who were after the scrap did not pay heed. “The detonating mechanism of a fired but unexploded shell is unstable and if not handled properly can explode,” he said, adding experts always exploded these shells after a day’s firing.
18 March 2012 - BAE Staff Injured in Gun Test
MSIAC INPUT (Link: Staff Injured in Gun Test) Three BAE engineers were injured after a warship gun misfired during testing off the Dorset coast. The men were taken to hospital after suffering minor injuries following the incident aboard the Al-Shamikh ship, which is destined for the Omani Navy. Local reports said there was an explosion on board but BAE insisted that was an exaggeration of the incident and denied suggestions of a fire. The men were taken to hospital as a precautionary measure and discharged the same day, a spokeswoman said. The 99-metre long ship was undergoing sea trials in the English Channel before being handed over to the Sultanate of Oman Navy later in the year. The area is used regularly for testing newly built ships. A witness who saw the men being transferred to the ambulance said: "There was a loud explosion on board the warship. "She was on gunnery trials off Portland, when there was an explosion, sending shrapnel up. "The blast was heard seven miles away in Weymouth.” A spokeswoman for BAE said: "An incident occurred on board Al-Shamikh while on sea trials on Sunday during test firings".
18 October - UK
121018-14 Lancashire, near Preston, Bamber Bridge. Sprint Print. Thirteen people were affected, but not seriously injured, after workers disturbed a stockpile of phosphorous grenades left in the sealed-up cellar of a property in Bamber Bridge since the Second World War. Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service said it was thought that one of the grenades, issued to members of the Home Guard during the Second World War, was dislodged and cracked. The device is a glass bottle about eight inches high which, on being thrown and hitting the target, was intended to break and release the contents, a highly flammable mixture of phosphorus and benzene, self-igniting on exposure to air.
Fire-fighters were first called to reports of a fire at the premises of Sprint Print at 12:23, but on arrival they soon found that wisps of smoke thought to be from a fire were in fact chemical fumes from a source, thought to be a small container or bottle, in the cellar. Two drainage company employees investigating a report from the occupier of damp masonry were thought to have inadvertently dislodged one of the bottles in the stockpile, causing it to leak and release fumes. They were exposed to the fumes and were injured along with three workers at Sprint Print. Of these five casualties, two suffered chemical burns and three experienced breathing problems. Two paramedics and six hospital staff at the Royal Preston Hospital, where the casualties had been taken, also subsequently complained of breathing difficulties. One casualty suffered blisters to the ex-posed skin of his arms, but all 13 casualties responded well to treatment and were allowed home. The cracked grenade was made safe and removed from the building for disposal by an army disposal team and the rest of the stockpile will be disposed of in a controlled explosion.
23 October - Sudan
121023-02-A Khartoum. A major fire broke out around 23:30 after several explosions at an arms factory in Sudan’s capital of Khartoum. Soldiers blocked roads to the Yarmouk ammunition factory where more explosions erupted as fire-fighters tried to contain the fire. After two hours the fire had been almost extinguished.
Abdelrahman alKhidir, governor of Khartoum state, said some people had been taken to hospitals after inhaling smoke but otherwise there were no casualties, according to the state news agency SUNA. The governor said the cause of the fire and the explosions was unclear, but that nothing pointed to “external reasons”. He told state television the explosion had probably occurred in a storage hall of the huge complex.
The story changed on October 24, when Sudan’s Culture and Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman accused Israel of bombing the arms factory, threatening retaliation after a resulting fire killed two people and injured a third. The minister said four “radar-evading” aircraft were involved in the attack, which occurred at about midnight (2100 GMT). It took troops several hours to contain the blaze. He claimed that evidence pointing to Israel was found among remnants of undetonated missiles: “The people have seen it with their eyes: four planes coming from the east, and we have no enemy other than Israel. The type of rockets which we have now – and some of them did not explode – we have the codes, we have seen the planes directly, this is recorded, and all this evidence we are going to take to the [UN] Security Council.”
1 November - Sweden
121101-12 Örebro County, Karlskoga. Saab Bofors Dynamics AB. Two men were taken to hospital after an explosion in a Saab Bofors Dynamics facility, manufacturing military materiel in Karlskoga, in central Sweden. Thomas Carlsén of the local emergency services said: “They were handling a small amount of gunpowder [sic] and for some reason it ignited.” Saab Bofors Dynamics is a subsidiary of the Saab Defence Group, specializing in military materiel such as missile systems and anti-tank systems.
Three people were in the immediate area when the powder exploded; two were taken to hospital, one with burns, and one who was suffering from shock. The two men were first taken to the local Karlskoga Lasarett hospital and then transferred to the Örebro University Hospital.
Karin Walka, spokeswoman for Saab Bofors Dynamics, said: “The accident happened during a manufacturing process.” She was unable to disclose exactly what it was that the men had been making when the explosion occurred.
1 November - USA
121113-03 LA, Webster Parish, Camp Minden. Goex. An explosion occurred at Camp Minden, though smaller and causing less damage than one in October. [HInt 12-10a, 121015-12.] The latest explosion happened at Goex, a black powder manufacturer on the former Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant reservation, as workers were preparing to start production. Webster Parish Sheriff Gary Sexton said the explosion was confined to an enclosed room containing a grinding wheel and caused no injuries and only a little damage to equipment. No personnel were around at the time. The explosion was at least the seventh at Goex since the black powder manufacturer moved to the reservation in 1997.
• June 7, 2011: About 1,000 pounds of black powder exploded in the Goex corning mill plant. [HInt 11-06a, 110607-07.] One worker was slightly injured when he slipped and fell during the evacuation. Temporary evacuations were ordered in the immediate vicinity.
• July 15, 2006: A fire and a small explosion caused no injuries at the Goex black powder facility. [HInt ExM 06-07, 060715-15.]
• Nov. 3, 2004: Goex explosion; no injuries.
• Oct. 31, 2001: An explosion at Goex injured two employees and caused $2.5 million in damage.
• Jan. 25, 2000: A flash fire and explosion at Goex burned one employee.
• Nov. 5, 1998: A worker died in an explosion at Goex.
2 November - Indonesia
121102-09 Gresik, Bambe area. First Corp. Widodo. Marine Lt. Col. Ainur Rofiq, Howitzer Battalion Commander of the Navy, confirmed that the ammunition which exploded in the Bambe area in Gresik, on November 2, was ammunition type 105H TNT, normally used for the Navy’s Howitzer. He said the Navy often sends inactive ammunitions to the welding shop belonging to First Corp. Widodo who works in the Karang Pilang marine unit in Surabaya. The Howitzer Battalion, he said, asked the shop to split the ammunition: “We want it split for our new students to gain practical learning experience.”
Lt. Col. Eko Wibowo, Gresik military commander, confirmed that such activity was official: “Since we do not have the tools, we enlist the help of the welding shop.” Eko further explained that the ammunition was actually clean of gun powder. The explosion occurred because the welder tried to split it in a horizontal position: “It should have been placed in standing position.” Nevertheless, the Navy will continue to conduct an investigation into the incident. The Navy military police has been deployed to the location of the incident in Ngambar village, said Gresik.
6 November - France
121106-08-A Aisne (02), near Villers-Cotterêts, Fleury. The 149 inhabitants of the hamlet of Fleury were ordered to shelter-in-place following the discovery of a First World War shell containing mustard agent, which began leaking after EOD specialists removed it and placed it in their vehicle. The shell was about 700mm long, and 150mm diameter, and weighed about 50 kg. It contained between four and five liters of mustard agent.
The shell was uncovered by workers of water utility company Lyonnaise des Eaux, who were digging a trench. A decontamination unit was put in place, and operatives from Civil Protection sealed the shell in a hermetic container. It was taken to their depot for destruction.
23 November - Georgia
121123-01 Krtsanisi. Georgian Defence Ministry: Krtsanisi National Training Centre. An Azerbaijani serving in Georgian armed forces, Mammad Guliyev, died in an explosion in Georgia. The explosion reportedly occurred as a result of an attempt to dismantle a shell.
According to the Georgian Defence Ministry: “An accident has occurred at the Krtsanis training center today. Serviceman Mammad Guliyev died as he was executing his military duties. At 12.00 serviceman Guliyev found a combat shell on the polygon. By preliminary data, he tried to dismantle the shell. The shell exploded and Mammad Guliyev died on the spot. The administration of the armed forces and a group of criminalist experts immediately arrived on the spot.”
23 November - Argentina
111123-09-A San Pablo, Ohuanta. Servicios y Aventuras S.R.L. Around 08:30, a powerful explosion destroyed part of an ammunition factory, leaving two workers dead, and two injured who were transferred to the hospitals of Santiago del Estero and Balcarce. At the time of the accident, there were about ten people working in different places in the plant, and only four suffered any consequences. Comisario (Chief Inspector) Mario Ledesma, Deputy Chief of West Regional Unit, and Comisario Nestor Osores, fire chief, inspected the scene of the accident and closed the site until the Court determines whether security measures are sufficient for the factory to continue working. Ledesma said experts of the Fire Explosives section will determine what caused the accident, and the accumulation of evidence to determine who was responsible for the fact. About the lives lost, said the Comisario, the medical examiner will determine the effect that caused the explosion, and whether the workers were with proper attire at the time of the accident. On November 24, it was reported that the incident occurred as the workers were using a cartridge loading machine. Ledesma said the explosion occurred at 09:30 “in the cargo sector, where the machine was being operated.” The company, Servicios y Aventuras, produces explosives, ammunition, and pyrotechnic products.
27 November - UK
121127-14 Kent, six miles north of Sheerness. Royal Navy bomb disposal experts detonated a large German mine off the Kent coast after a delicate operation to remove it from a dredger. It took seven hours to safely dislodge the Second World War magnetic/acoustic mine, containing 1,500 pounds of high explosive, which was trapped in the teeth of the dredger’s drag head. The air-dropped LMB mine [British designation GC] was brought to the surface by the dredger six miles [10km] north of Sheerness.
Before carrying out a controlled explosion, a four man Navy team from Southern Diving Unit 2 in Portsmouth had carefully to remove the device from its precarious location. CPO Ian ‘Scouse’ Fleming, who led the team, worked for seven hours through the night in atrocious conditions to safely extract the mine and hoist it onto the dredger’s upper deck. He said: “I had to crawl along a pipe to reach the mine to attach chains. It was a confined space, and waves were splashing all around me. The fuses had been bashed about a bit and were quite dangerous and the explosives were exposed. It was a tiring operation, one of the most testing I have been involved in, but everything went to plan.”
The mine, which measured two meters long by 50cm diameter, was towed two miles out to sea and dropped to a depth of about ten meters. A controlled explosion then destroyed the device.
28 November - Australia
111128-03 Fort Cooper, Queensland. A truck carrying 38 tonnes of ammonium nitrate explosives caught fire and burned on a north Queensland road. A Department of Community Safety spokesman said authorities set up a 1km exclusion zone around the truck, which caught fire about 15:00, on the Suttor Development Road at Fort Cooper, northwest of Nebo. Fire-fighters were waiting for the fire to burn out, and police said they expected the road to be closed for some time. The truck driver managed to escape without serious injuries.
29 November - Germany
121129-11 Nordrhein-Westfalen/North Rhine-Westphalia, Dortmund. More than 7,000 Dortmund residents were evacuated after an unexploded Second World War bomb with dangerous acid fuses was discovered during construction work. By mid-night, the EOD experts were able to give the all clear. The EOD experts had succeeded in making the bomb, loaded with 500 kilograms of explosives, harmless, despite a damaged acid igniter. Had it not been able to do so, the bomb would have had to be blown up – in the heart of the hospital district of the Ruhr city.
Construction workers had exposed the UXO while working at ground level, and the chemical detonator of the bomb was accidentally damaged by an excavator. Consequently, more than 7,000 were urged to leave their homes. In the evacuation zone were also three hospitals, including a children’s hospital. The latter, however, did not have to be completely evacuated; patients were only moved to secure parts of the building.
30 November - Yemen
121130-03 Sanaa. A weapons depot of an arms dealer in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa exploded, injuring at least 12 people. The Interior Ministry said in a brief statement: “Until now, 12 people were injured by the explosion of the weapons depot in Sanaa and fire-fighters have put out the fire.” The explosion occurred in a basement weapons store belonging to arms dealer Garman Abdu Garman, located in a crowded neighbourhood in south-western Sanaa. Four nearby houses were damaged.
A police official said on condition of anonymity that the armed bodyguards of Garman prevented the security personnel from entering the area for investigation. Another security official cited two of Garman’s bodyguards as saying that “a shell fired by unknown gunmen into Garman’s house caused the explosion”. Garman is one of three well-known arms dealers in Yemen who come from the northern Saada province and live in Sanaa.
3 December - India
111203-03 Khadki, Pune, Maharashtra state. Ammunition Factory, Khadki (AFK). The death of a 30-year-old employee in a sudden fire at the sensitive L3 section of Ammunition Factory, Khadki (AFK) on December 3, led to apprehension among the staff, who even conducted a yagna – a Hindu sacrifice – to prevent any repeats. The employee, Tejas Daulatrao Mule, who sustained 80-90 per cent burns, died on December 8. Describing the fire as a serious incident that could have burnt down the entire L3 section, AFK officials said experts looking into the incident have not yet identified the cause of the fire. Mule, a permanent employee, was described as a highly skilled worker. The incident happened around 14:10 when he was about to go for lunch. AFK officials said there was a spark and suddenly Mule was on fire. Showing presence of mind, Mule sprinted towards a water tank and doused the fire. The employees now hail Mule as a martyr who saved them. The area was immediately cordoned off and the L3 section temporarily shut down. AFK general manager B M Singh said an inquiry committee is looking into the incident, noting: “It was an incidental accident. Nothing can be said at this point unless the probe is over.” He, however, dismissed fears that the incident could have led to a major mishap. Mule was working on the machine that generates .380 balls. [Presumably .380 ball cartridges.] There were empty cartridges and ammunition stock in the section. AFK officials said that if the “sympathetic fire” had spread, it could have completely destroyed the L3 section, explaining: “The fire is caused if the room temperature rises and generates static electricity.”
3 December - Mexico
121203-09 Guanajuato state, Celaya. Four people died as a result of severe burns suffered in the explosion of a powder magazine located in a desert, near the community of Jáuregui, while another five involved in the incident remained hospitalized.
4 December - China
111204-02 Shangjie village, Zhenxiong County, Yunnan Province. Four villagers were killed and another one injured when an explosion tore apart a village house in southwest China’s Yunnan Province. The accident, which happened at about 10:30, was caused by explosives that had been stored in the house, according to an official from the county government. The injured person was admitted to a local hospital.
4 December - India
121204-01 Maharashtra state, Pune/Poona. Ordnance Factory. An accident at Ordnance Factory injured four workers, including one in a critical condition. The incident occurred at 10.40 am Tuesday when a particular composition that the four workers were mixing went off accidentally. The factory ordered an internal inquiry into the incident. According to officials, the four are experienced employees and were working on a chemical composition in an area called Danger Building: “The workers – Danger Building Workers as they are designated – were mixing a particular composition when the mishap took place. They are experienced professionals who have been working with the factory for years. An internal departmental inquiry has been ordered.”
Initially, when the news of the mishap broke, it was rumoured that there had been an explosion, but the official said: “It was not a blast. It may be called a minor accident. There has been no damage to property.
Senior inspector Ram Jadhav of Dehu Road police station said: “Our primary probe suggests that this was an accident and that there is no foul play. The incident took place when two substances were being mixed for some process. Prima facie, it looks all the precautions were taken. People are employed at the factory only after they are made aware of the risks involved here. The employees who got injured and those present are experienced staff.”
8 December - Ecuador
(See the Video) 111208-03-D Pusuquí sector, north of Quito. Police College General Alberto Enríquez Gallo. Children and police were injured in two explosions at about 11:15 in the powder magazine of the Grupo de Intevención y Rescate (GIR – Intervention and Rescue Group), located at the rear of the General Alberto Enríquez Gallo Police College in Pusuquí sector, north of Quito. Interior Minister Jose Serrano said there were 12 wounded, including four children who were in a daycare Facilities of the Ministry of Social Inclusion, located about four blocks from the police arsenal. According to the Ministry of the Interior, by noon eight cadets injured with cuts from glass, who are in stable condition, a police sergeant and a civilian had officially entered the Police Hospital. They were joined by four others who were transferred to the Baca Ortiz hospital. The blast wave expanded to a radius of approximately 1 km, and there were windows in homes affected in and around the bar-racks. A nursery is located about four blocks from the incident, where a child suffered an injury to his hand, and broken glass was also found in the cribs. On December 10, the coordinator of the Ecuadorian Red Cross, Henry Ochoa, said the number of injured had risen to 41, but most of the injured people had “minor injuries caused by the hit of objects, cuts and ear problems”, and only one person had second degree burnings and was still hospitalized. The death toll of the explosion in Pusuqui, in northwest Quito, remained four. On December 13, following a government order prohibiting any statements to journalists concerning the explosion, local media, citing the head of the Quito Fire Brigade, Colonel Fernando Ordóñez, revealed that the GIR did not have the necessary permits required to keep explosives on site. Furthermore, in an interview with state TV (ECTV), the Secretary of Homeland Security in Quito, Lourdes Rodriguez, said that the Municipality also had not known that there were explosives in the GIR: “I have reviewed what existed in La Delicia Zonal Administration and, indeed, it was not known there was a bunker or a powder magazine. It’s true. There was no knowledge and therefore there was no specific plan.” On December 14, Defence Minister Javier Ponce said the police did not inform the Ministry that there were explosives storage areas at the headquarters – despite the fact that the Regulation to the Law on Arms, Ammunition, Explosives and Accessories provides that Defence has all powers for inspection. According to Ponce, the military has the responsibility for monitoring, provided that institutions re-port the existence of such areas. Asked if the military controlled the bunker, the Minister was adamant and said: “Absolutely not. That was the sole responsibility of the police.” Minutes later, the Security Secretary of the Municipality of Quito, Lourdes Rodriguez, said the GIR was required to report in the Joint Command of Armed Forces (COMAC) the existence of explosives. In fact, Article 70 of the munitions rule states that: “For the storage of explosives, the Joint Chiefs approve the location of deposits or magazines, the technical and safety conditions to be met, and the explosives that may be stored in them.” In addition, the Defence Act states that “it may prohibit, temporarily or permanently limit the activities, quantities of arms, ammunition and explosives for civilian, State or private commercial purposes”. Hence, Minister Ponce said that all the information related to explosives or weapons have to considered by the Joint Staff. Furthermore, the GIR also required permits from the Fire Department and the Municipality of Quito, who also were not aware of the existence of the bunker that exploded. To this must be added that officials have no clear information about whether the police station premises were insured or not.
11 December - Israel
111211-03 Elikim, northern Israel. Israel Defence Forces (IDF). A resident of northern Israel was killed during a munitions test at the Israel Defence Forces base at Elikim. The IDF said that the civilian’s death was caused by a bullet during a test at the training base. The incident was being investigated by the army and police.
13 December - Libya
121213-01 Near Sirte, village of Harawa. Ordnance experts destroyed a Scud missile warhead near Sirte after it had lain untouched for nearly 17 months. The missile, thought to be Russian-made, was allegedly fired by forces loyal to Qaddafi during fighting in the area in 2011, but failed to detonate.
A bomb disposal team from Handicap International (HI), an NGO that helps the vulnerable in conflict zones, moved the warhead from the village of Harawa, where it was discovered last in November, to a secure location 21 km from Sirte and success-fully disposed of it. Brendan Ramshaw, HI’s technical adviser in Sirte, said: “We first came and surveyed the missile from information gathered by our community liaison teams and at the time we were unsure whether it was safe to move, or if it should be destroyed in situ.” However, after an examination of the missile, the group decided it was safe to move, and transported it to a secure location outside of Sirte to be blown up. After the controlled explosion was successfully carried out, Sirte City Council presented the HI workers with a certificate of appreciation for their services in the region.
19 December - Honduras
121219-06 Department of Copán, municipality of Nueva Arcadía. At least one person was killed and three others injured when a rocket factory exploded in the department of Copan, western Honduras. Pedro Salazar, a member of the Fire Department of this area, said the explosion occurred inside a rocket factory located in a hamlet of New Arcadia Township, Copan, apparently due to careless handling of explosives. The fatality was identified as Bayron Lopez, 19, who was employed by the factory, which meets all legal requirements for operation. The injured suffered injuries of varying severity, so they were taken to a government hospital in the area.
22 December - Canada
111222-03 Repentigny, Quebec. General Dynamics. Around 15:15, an explosion was heard at the General Dynamics site in Repentigny. The deflagration was heard several kilometres from the munitions factory, and the emergency services were inundated with reports of an unidentified explosion. According to the company, the explosion occurred on an area belonging to General Dynamics, and re-served for the testing of munitions. According to Philippe Robert of the General Dynamics public relations: “However, this explosion was much stronger than usual.” The Repentigny fire department sent fire-fighters to the area, but they had difficulty locating the site of the explosion because the plant delayed reporting it. Fire-fighters left the area around 15:40. General Dynamics said it would hold an internal inquiry to determine exactly what happened. No employees were injured, and no buildings were damaged.
25 December - China
121225-12-A Shanxi Province, near Linfen City. China Railway Tunnel Group: Erchu Co Ltd. At least eight construction workers died and five others were injured in a railway tunnel explosion in north China’s Shanxi Province. Local government officials said the accident happened around 15:00 on December 25 when the workers were digging the Nanlu-Liangshan Tunnel in a mountain near Linfen City. The project manager reportedly tried conceal the accident that killed eight workers and injured five who are now being treated in the hospital.
The tunnel is being built by Erchu Co Ltd, a subsidiary of China Railway Tunnel Group. The company’s work safety department confirmed the accident, but details of the accident were not disclosed as the official investigation is still ongoing. The accident was exposed on December 9 when someone posted a microblog that a severe accident happened on a railway construction site in Linfen City.
On January 4, the Work Safety Committee of the State Council condemned a subsidiary of a State-Owned Enterprise [SOE] which tried to cover up the explosion and called for heavier punishment for such violations. The explosion occurred around 14:40 when the workers were setting explosives in a tunnel under construction in Shanxi province. According to the Work Safety Committee of the State Council, the accident was caused by illegal blasting operations. However, the construction company, a subsidiary of the China Railway Tunnel Group, did not report the accident to the government until it was exposed by citizens and confirmed by the government five days later on December 30. China Railway Tunnel Group is China’s largest corporation for tunnel and underground projects.
Li Xiaopeng, acting governor of Shanxi province, said he felt very angry and shocked at the SOE’s concealment of the fatal accident. Li and some other officials stood in silent tribute to the dead during a meeting on January 1.
Four managers in charge of the construction project were detained by police on allegations of not reporting work safety accidents. To conceal the accident, the company sent some of the injured workers to a hospital in Mengzhou in Henan province, which is more than 360 km from Puxian county of Shanxi province where the accident occurred.
According to state media, Tang Fu, 26, a worker from Sichuan province, said that he was driving a forklift in the tunnel when the explosion with the power of 120 kg of TNT occurred, saying: “I fainted after hearing a ‘bang’, and when I woke up, my right eye was lost.” Zhao Dejun, a 48-year-old worker from Sichuan province, suffered serious injuries to his spine and hipbone, and also lost hearing in the accident. Li Guoli, vice-chairman of the labour union of an SOE subsidiary in Shanxi province, said that some SOEs contracted out their projects to unqualified private companies, which increases safety risks.
27 December - Argentina
111227-06 Rafaela. Foti Manufactura Argentina de Pólvora SA (Fomapsa). On person was killed and one seriously injured in an explosion around 09:30 at Foti Manufactura Argentina de Pólvora SA (Fo-mapsa – Foti Powder Manufacturing Argentina). The tragedy occurred four years after an accident in similar characteristics that left four dead in August, 2007. [HInt 07-08a, 070802-05.] The provincial police chief, Inspector-General Hugo Tognoli, said the explosion apparently occurred in a sieving machine, where the powder is mixed with chemicals. Police sources said other people at the scene were slightly injured in the blast.
27 December - Follow-Up Article of 29 September 2012
FORMER TOTAL UNIT BOSS SENTENCED FOR DEADLY BLAST
A French appeals court on Monday fined a unit of Total oil giant 225,000 euros and sentenced its former manager to a year in prison for a massive blast at a chemical plant that killed 31 and injured 2,500 in the south-western city of Toulouse in 2001.
A French appeals court Monday sentenced a former boss of a subsidiary of oil giant Total to a year in prison for a 2001 chemical plant blast that killed 31 people.
The court slapped a three-year term -- two of them suspended -- and a 45,000-euro ($58,000) fine on former plant chief Serge Biechlin for manslaughter.
Total subsidiary Grande Paroisse, the company he managed, was fined 225,000 euros, the maximum amount, when an appeal court overturned the verdict reached in a 2009 trial in the south-western city of Toulouse.
The blast which erupted in September 2001 in a storage warehouse packed with 300 tonnes of ammonium nitrate at the AZF chemical fertilizer plant near Toulouse also injured 2,500 people and devastated 30,000 homes.
Prosecutors argued in the first trial that negligence of security measures were to blame but the defense said the explosion had been a simple industrial accident.
The prosecution appealed after the Toulouse court ruled there was not enough evidence to prove manslaughter charges against Grande Paroisse and Biechlin, and a new negligence trial began late last year.
Since the blast, Grande Paroisse has paid out more than two billion euros ($2.7 billion) in compensation to more than 16,000 victims, according to Total's figures.
The blast came just days after the September 11 attacks in New York and initially sparked fears that it was a terrorist attack. That theory was later dismissed by investigators.