Accidents January - February 2014

As is customary at the beginning of the year, 90% of all reported accidents have to do with fireworks’ related explosions/incidents. The list is therefore significantly shorter than the rest of the year.

8 January 2014 -  Iran

140108-07-A About 35km (21 miles) south of Tehran. At least five people were killed and several seriously injured in an explosion as explosives were being transported to a shoot on the Iraq-Iran war (1980-1988). The head of special effects, actors and members of the production team were among the dead. One crew member was quoted as saying live explosives were used because of an embargo on the import of dummy props: “The explosives are of the kind used in war zones. We had no choice but to use this type of explosive as the import of such material used for movies is banned.”

On January 12, a funeral ceremony was held for those who died shortly before the filming of an explosion scene for Iranian director Masud Dehnamaki’s war drama The Ascendants. The explosion took place while the veteran special effects supervisor Mohammad-Javad Sharifi was preparing an explosion scene for the film.

The incident happened in the Sacred Defence City, which has been established for war film projects in an area between the cities of Tehran and Qom. Sacred Defence City director Ali-Akbar Ranjbar, Mohammad-Javad Sharifi, production assistant Reza Faraji, special effects assistant Mehdi Moradi, and the guard Jamshid Ehsanifar were killed and two others, Morteza Molaii and Hamid Shahiri, were seriously injured at the scene.

Filming for Meerajiha – The Ascendants – directed by Masoud Dehnamaki, began in September 2013 at the Sacred Defence Cinematic Town, a location where Iranian war films are usually made.

16 January - Vietnam

140116-05 Central Highlands, Dak Lak Province, Dak Song District, Duc An Town. Chu Van An Primary School. A toy shaped like a grenade exploded, making 32 pupils dizzy, short of breath, and some fainted. The incident occurred in the afternoon of January 16, at the Chu Van An Primary School in Duc An Town.

According to Mr. Tong Truong Ky, Director of the Dak Song District Hospital, the hospital received 32 pupils with breathing difficulties, muscle spasms of the limbs, rash on body, … infected by a strange chemical. Ky said the hospital could not determine the type of chemical that was affecting the pupils, and three good doctors and six nurses were assigned to take care of the students. By 21:00, on January 17, all pupils were discharged from hospital.

Mr. Doan Trung Que, Headmaster of Chu Van An Primary School, said at noon of January 16, before the class, some pupils bought a toy shaped like a grenade from a trader near the school gate. While they were playing with these toys, one exploded, making 32 pupils have dizziness, shortness of breath, and some fainted. A fifth grader recalled: “When the toy exploded, I suddenly felt my whole body get painful, shortness of breath and I fainted.” The toy seller said that she bought 100 toys of this type on January 11 from a shop in Buon Ma Thuot City, Dak Lak Province. She sold 40 units. The toy looked like a grenade with smiley faces and a bag containing a white powder and fluid inside.

24 January 2014 - Democratic Republic of Congo

140124-07-B Kasai-Oriental province, near Mbuji-Mayi. An explosion around 13:30 at an arms depot killed at least 10 people in the town of Mbuji-Mayi. The explosion occurred after a lightning strike apparently started a fire at the depot near Mbuji-Mayi, a diamond mining hub that is the capital of Congo’s Kasai-Oriental province and the country’s third largest city. Vicky Kazumba, spokesman for the provincial governor, said shells from the depot exploded and landed in the town, about 6 km (4 miles) away. There was no immediate word on casualties at a military base near the depot, home to many soldiers’ families.

On January 25, sources in the UN peacekeeping mission in the country said the explosion had claimed more than 20 lives. MONUSCO said in a statement that the city of Mbuji-Mayi “was ravaged with more than 20 dead, around 50 wounded and many destroyed houses”. The UN said MONUSCO chief Martin Kobler had told the peacekeeping mission’s local office to “help and support the local authorities to deal with the situation”.

16 January 2014 - Austria

140116-13 Salzburg, Golling. A man was seriously injured in the explosion of ammunition in a residential building in Golling, where the victim had assembled a huge arsenal of weapons, ammunition or other war relics. On January 17, police even requested a truck to remove the items from the residential area. Police spokeswoman Eva Wenzl said she could not give precise information on the seized items: “For now, we just want to bring everything to a safe place and there examine each piece carefully to determine whether it is at all dangerous. Then we will look at whether a part needs to be blown up in a controlled explosion.”

Because of his injuries, the 42-year-old resident had not been able to be interviewed about either the alleged weapons or the explosion. The explosion occurred in the basement of the family house, and the 42-year-old suffered severe burns. The man apparently handled with an ammunition relic. When disassembling the trigger, it is said to have ignited explosively. The seriously injured man was still able to organize help. He was taken to a rescue helicopter in the Salzburg Hospital.

23 January 2014 - Portugal

140123-12 Santarém District, Abrantes Municipality, parish of Rio de Moinhos, Jugueiros. GJR – Pirotecnia e Explosivos. An explosion in a barn left one person dead. The victim was an employee of the company GJR – Pyrotechnics and Explosives, who was handling explosive substances in a compartment of the plant. The man was alone at the time of the explosion.

A source told local media that: “The deceased was mixing a composition in the explosive substance compartment. That is prohibited in the magazine. Only one person can work there at a time, so no one saw and no one knows the details.”

At 10:00, 15 fire-fighters were mobilized to the site, supported by five vehicles, and even a medical emergency and reanimation car from the Padre Américo Sousa Valley Hospital Centre. The victim, however, had died instantly, according to information from the fire department. According to Isaura Rocha, commander of the Fire Department of Entre-os-Rios: “When we got there, there was nothing else to do. The victim had been thrown some distance from the bunker that was completely destroyed.”

According to fire-fighters, the deceased, Manuel Ferreira, had worked several years at the factory, and therefore had a lot of experience.

23 January 2014 -  India

140123-14 Tamil Nadu, around 60km from Chennai, Maraimalai Nagar, Hanumanthapuram shooting range. Three Delhi police commandos were injured when an abandoned mortar shell exploded at the Hanumanthapuram shooting range. A police commando accidentally triggered an explosion during the fourth All India Police Commando Competition (AIPCC). The shell was identified as a TNT-51 RDX device by Border Security Force officers.

The three were taking part in an exercise at the shooting range when the shell exploded. One man was crawling on the ground carrying a rifle when he inadvertently hit the switch of the mortar shell with his right foot. A police officer said: “If the shell had been on the tripod of a mortar gun, the blast would have led to the release of the main shell and a massive explosion. The main shell cannot explode on its own without a tripod and mortar gun. … Army and paramilitary forces use this type of mortar shell. It was left behind by Army or paramilitary personnel.”

On January 24, another police officer said there were likely to be more abandoned shells hidden in the dense undergrowth at the firing range. He said either Army or paramilitary personnel, who use the facility for practice, could have left the ammunition behind.

28 January 2014 - USA

140128-04 FL, Indian River County, Vero Beach. Two Second World War bombs were blown up by Navy divers. The first 1,000-pound bomb turned out to be filled with sand – evidently a practice bomb – after Navy divers used a small amount of explosives to blow it up underwater on the sandy ocean bottom a mile offshore at 13:55. A half-hour later came the second detonation of a smaller, 500-pound bomb, which jetted up more water, but also was not live.

During the process, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission pilot flew overhead, making sure no right whales or other marine life was visible. After the explosions, Capt. Dave Scheffer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said there did not appear to be any harm to wildlife.

According to Navy officials, the bombs were remains of what was once an extensive amphibious landing training area along the Treasure Coast. Aircraft dropped bombs and parts of the beach were littered with blocks of concrete and steel designed to thwart landing craft. Through the years, bombs have occasionally been uncovered, as were the latest two, spotted by the Army Corps of Engineers during an aerial survey of the shoreline. The Navy dispatched its elite explosive disposal team, who worked through January 27 to free the bombs from the ocean bottom and a reef – only 300 feet offshore from beachfront homes. As a precaution, sheriff’s deputies knocked on the door of seven homes, urging residents to evacuate for the afternoon.

Contractors handling debris south of Vero Beach associated with World War II military activity at the site of the former Fort Pierce Naval Amphibious Training Base found the bombs about 50 feet apart during a federal survey of old underwater devices. Army Corps of Engineers workers were searching for and removing objects known as “horned scullies”, which are obstacles intended to damage landing craft, when they saw the bombs. The bombs are remains from when the military used Indian River and St. Lucie counties’ beaches for training for amphibious landings, such as at Normandy or in the Pacific Ocean. There was also a practice bombing area at Blue Cypress Lake in western Indian River County, used by aviators training at a Naval air station in Vero Beach. According to federal records, the Navy only dropped live bombs.

A “horned scully” is a tapered block of concrete with projecting steel rails, embedded under water to tear holes in the bottoms of boats.

30 January 2014 - Russia

140130-16 Khabarovsk Region, Knyaze-Volkonskoye. Three Russian servicemen were killed in a munitions explosion in a combat vehicle during a training operation in the Khabarovsk Region. The armoured vehicle was participating in a live-fire exercise in Knyaze-Volkonskoye. A Defence Ministry spokesman said: “As a result of the blast, three troops, including an officer, were killed.” Investigators were trying to determine what caused the explosion.

12 February 2014 - Bangladesh

140212-01 Tangail district, Ghatail. Five members of Bangladesh Army and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) were killed and at least twelve injured when a mortar shell went off accidentally during training in Ghatail upazila of Tangail. Among the dead victims, two were army personnel while the rest were BGB members. Saleh Mohammed Tanvir, superintendent of police in Tangail, said the injured were flown to Dhaka by a Bangladesh Army helicopter immediately after the explosion.

The accident took place around noon when BGB members were undergoing firing training at Midharchala field firing range. According to a local source, the mortar went off within the firing range, killing three BGB members. The two army personnel who died were involved in management of the army-run field firing range.