Accidents July - August 2014

15 July 2014 - Burkina Faso

140715-04-A Ouagadougou. Four people were killed and dozens wounded when an illegal explosives cache blew up accidentally in Ouagadougou. National security head Omer Batiolo told reporters: “Two of the dead have been identified and parts of human remains have been found in the rubble belonging to two [other] people.” He said 32 of a reported 38 people injured in the explosion had been taken to hospital. A medical source said seven people were in a serious condition, including a woman who underwent emergency surgery. Batolio said the explosives had been intended for use in illegal mining operations. The blast damaged or destroyed 21 houses within a 100m radius, he said.

On July 19, Lieutenant Issa Paré, in charge of the investigation, confirmed that that the owner of the warehouse had been arrested, but there was no suggestion of terrorism. He said the man had stored, in a rented house: “Fifteen cartons of rubber [sic] of type Goma 2ECO, five rolls of electric wire and safety fuse of type Riocord, and two cartons containing 5,000 detonators of types Electric detonator et Plain detonator.”

Lieutenant Paré said that on July 15, around 18:00, the proprietor sent two persons to remove certain items for a client. It was during this operation that the incident occurred.

17 July 2014 - India

140717-05 Jammu and Kashmir, Budgam district, Tosamaidan firing range. A young man was killed after a discarded artillery shell accidentally exploded. The incident occurred at Tosamaidan firing range in Budgam district, 65 km southwest of Srinagar city, the summer capital of Kashmir.

A police official said: “Last evening a youth namely Bilal Ahmad Parray was critically wounded in an artillery shell blast at Tosamaidan firing range. Parray succumbed to his injuries on the way to hospital.” According to a local resident Parray had gone to the area with his cattle and was collecting firewood: “He was collecting firewood in the area, but unknowingly stepped over a littered shell, causing its blast.”

According to locals, stray ammunition shells fired by the Indian army troopers during their military drill in Tosamaidan meadow are littered in the area. The Tosamaidan meadow has served as a firing range zone for Indian army since 1964. The Indian army has been using it for its drills to practice artillery fire and other heavy weapons. According to officials about 70 people have lost their lives and more than 40 others were crippled due to explosions of unexploded shells in and around Toasamaidan during the past five decades. The lease period of the firing range ended in April and villagers in and around the meadow have been urging government to stop using the meadow as firing range.

On July 18, Aam Aadmi Party [AAP] leader Raja Muzaffar Bhat issued a statement saying: “Death of Bilal Ahmad Parray of Cherahaar Beerwa is once again a case of total negligence on part of the artillery unit of army which has failed to clear the area from unexploded shells which remain littered in and around Tosamaidan.”

He accused government as well as artillery unit of Army for the deaths that are taking place in the area, saying: “Both of them have failed to clear area from un-exploded bombs and live shells.” He added: “Government especially the Army and Police have modern gadgets to locate explosives and live bombs in the area but we fail to understand why these gadgets and technology is not pressed into service by the authorities to clear Tosamaidan and its adjoining areas from the un-exploded shells.“

22 July 2014 - Costa Rica

140722-04 Cartago, San Rafael de Quircot. Fuegos Artificiales Cavica. An explosion at a chemicals warehouse in the factory of Fuegos Artificiales Cavica occurred around noon in San Rafael Quircot, Cartago, and caused material and infrastructure damage estimated at 10 million Colon. Several Fire units arrived on the scene and, after checking that there were no wounded, quickly controlled the fire.

The explosion was in a small galley, which was completely destroyed, but did not affect the cellars, located about 80 metres away, where the processed material is stored. Carlos Villavicencio, factory manager, said that the explosion was in a warehouse that held chemicals and he did not know if any contamination or heat could have caused the emergency. He stressed that the mill is isolated and made of pre-cast concrete, designed for non-combustion. Villavicencio said infrastructure losses were estimated at 10 million Colon, but said the most important thing was that no human injuries occurred. He stated that he will cover damage to windows that were broken in the neighbourhood, but stressed that the factory had been on the site for 28 years; the houses were built later.

23 July 2014 - USA

140723-04 MA, Wellfleet, Marconi Beach. A military projectile that was found on Marconi Beach was detonated several hours later by a Massachusetts State Police bomb squad. Sgt. Jerry Galizio of the bomb squad said the ordnance most likely originated during World War II when some areas on Cape Cod and the Islands were used as military practice fields.

A fisherman found the device in the sand at around 15:00 and alerted authorities. When Wellfleet police and fire officials arrived on scene and identified the object as a projectile, they called in state police.

The popular beach remained open throughout the afternoon, but National Seashore park rangers blocked off a 300-foot perimeter [sic] while they waited for the bomb squad to arrive. When they did, Galizio removed the 14-inch projectile from the beach and examined it in the parking lot. Around 19:00, they returned the ordnance to the beach where it was detonated. Galizio said that the color of the smoke signified that the military projectile was live when it was detonated because the explosives the bomb squad uses make white smoke.

23 July 2014 - USA

140723-07 AL, near Jacksonville. Tripwire Operations Group. Local, state and federal authorities were investigating an explosion in the Angel community near Jacksonville. State officials said residents in a wide area around the explosion reported damage to their homes, but the CEO of the company responsible for the blast said the incident could not have caused any damage.

The explosion was caused by detonation of explosive material by Pennsylvania-based Tripwire Operations Group, which trains law enforcement agencies to deal with explosives and firearms, in addition to assisting in the training of explosive detection dogs. Residents near an old rock quarry on Angel Drive near Jacksonville, the site of the explosion, were unaware the blast would occur.

Ryan Morris, the CEO of Pennsylvania-based Tripwire Operations, said that the detonation was necessary to safely dispose of unsafe explosives after a day of training. Steve Holmes, spokesman for the Alabama Fire Marshal’s Office, said that investigators had asked Morris to turn over all the company’s records regarding explosive materials, adding: “The investigation is ongoing. There was a lot of property damage.” Holmes said cloud cover in the area could have contributed to the extent of the damage reported. He said clouds can hold the pressure from an explosion down, spreading it out over a large area rather than allowing to send energy upward. It was still unclear to state Fire Marshal investigators Friday what sort of explosive material was detonated. Morris said that homes in the area could not have been damaged by the blast.

Calhoun County Sheriff Larry Amerson said that investigators were trying to get questions answered for the community: “We continue to seek answers … as to exactly the nature of the explosion and to ensure that all relevant procedures were followed.”

28 July 2014 - USA

140728-04 MD, Belcamp. Chesapeake Testing. A fire at a ballistics testing company sent two people to hospitals with minor injuries. Harford Fire and EMS Association officials said the fire was reported shortly before 09:00 at Chesapeake Testing. Initial emergency radio dispatches said flames were showing and the fire was in one of the testing ranges inside the building, which has multiple tenants.

Chesapeake Testing conducts ballistic experiments and non-destructive testing services to support munitions and protection systems, according to its website. It has eight indoor firing ranges, a drive-in range, a non-ballistic test lab and access to an outdoor range.

According to Chris Schuler, vice-president of technical operations for Chesapeake Testing, the incident was caused by a bullet catcher that caught fire, adding: “It’s very unusual, we never had one get that much smoke.” A test round got lodged in the rubberized backstop, igniting the wood structure around it, according to a notice of investigation from the Office of the State Fire Marshal. Schuler said two employees got smoke in their eyes and went to the hospital, but were expected back before noon. The building did not suffer extensive damage, other than requiring clean-up and moving equipment to another range, Schuler said; however, the Fire Marshal’s Office estimated the damage to the building at $20,000 and damage to contents at $5,000, according to the notice of investigation.

1 August 2014 - India

140801-05 Chhattisgarh, Raipur district, Abhanpur. Navbharat Fuse Company Ltd. Five workers were killed in a major explosion that occurred in an explosive manufacturing unit of Navbharat Fuse Company. The explosion reportedly occurred at about 02:00 when only five workers were present in the unit that manufactures detonating wires. All of them were killed on the spot and the entire unit, which had about 142kg of highly explosive PETN (pentaerythritol tetranitrate) stored in it, was destroyed. The unit, where the mishap occurred, is part of the sprawling 200-acre factory campus of Navbharat Fuse, which manufactures bulk emulsion explosives, marketed under the brand name of Nova Shakti. The explosion occurred in the detonating cords unit, where PETN is used to coat the fuse.

According to eyewitnesses, the explosion was followed by a raging fire, which gutted everything in the unit. The other units and buildings on the premises, including the store where stocks of explosives were kept, were not affected. While there was no comment from factory’s management, villagers revealed that two other persons, including the factory supervisor, were also on duty.

According to RC Srivastava, Director State Forensic Laboratory an inspection by his team revealed that the explosion affected about 200 sq.ft area and the entire building around it collapsed. He said by the impact of the explosion a crater, which was 3ft deep and 12ft x12 ft width, was caused. Srivastava said seven bundles of detonator cord were inside the premises, each having a length of 1,800 to 2,000 metres. Besides 16kg of PETN on the each of detonator wire bundles, 30kg of PETN explosive powder was also kept in containers in the unit. He said an estimated 142kg of PETN was inside the unit.

Mukesh Titare, a senior official of the Explosive Controller department, said preliminary investigation indicated that that a large amount of PETN was stored on the premises, which is not allowed. He said detailed investigations into the mishap would commence and an official from the Nagpur office would be joining in.

Dhanendra Sahu, MLA, Abhanpur, alleged that the factory did not have adequate safety equipment. He claimed that workers have been demanding proper safety arrangements for past many years but the management had paid no heed to it. He claimed that the factory had come up in 1985 and most of the equipment used there was out-dated and worn out. He also claimed that no technical employee was present in the factory when the mishap occurred and unskilled labourers were handling highly explosive materials. He demanded that the administration should seal all records of the company to ensure a fair and free inquiry.

8 August 2014 - Bulgaria

140808-02 Kostenets. TEREM company. An explosion around 08:50 at a military plant in Kostenets injured at least ten people. Speaking on Bulgarian National Radio [BNR], Bulgarian interim Minister of Defence, Velizar Shalamanov, said: “Fortunately, the incident has been restricted. There are ten injured people, who were already examined. They have cut wounds caused by broken glass. Four of them are being taken to a hospital in the capital city. The injured are employees of the TEREM company and of the Military Logistics Base, which is located in the same [area]. Analyses are being done. There is no radiation or chemical pollution. There is no emission of nitrogen. There are no indications for risk of another explosion. … What happened is not connected with visible violations of the technical process, but there will be an investigation under the management of the Prosecutor’s Office. Outside the [area] of the plant there are only broken glasses and windows. The damages will be assessed and covered by TEREM.”

The ten people injured included five men and five women. One of those hospitalised was said by hospital sources to be seriously injured, but steadily improving.

However, former Bulgarian defence minister Valentin Radev, speaking on Radio FOCUS, said the incident was the result of the incompetence of the management: “The management of this military plant is incompetent. The previous director, who was expert in ammunitions, was replaced by the government of former prime minister Plamen Oresharski and a person, who is not competent in this field was appointed to the post. I know the people in the plant. But the management was replaced. These are political appointments of incompetent people and the plant lacks [expertise] in ammunitions.”

On August 9, it was reported that, according to initial information, the explosion was caused by a spark during controlled dismantling of ammunition. Officials announced that the situation was under control and that no more explosions were expected.

Senior Commissioner Nikolay Nikolov, Director of the General Directorate for Fire Safety and Civil Protection, said: “The Prosecutor’s Office has ordered the necessary operational and investigative actions so as to ascertain the reason and the possible culpability of concrete persons, i.e. what caused the blast.”

Experts with the Regional Inspectorate for Environment and Water – Sofia reassured that there was no pollution in the town of Kostenets after the explosion in the military plant. A mobile station analysed the air in the town under 25 indices and did not report any deviations from the standards, the press office of the Bulgarian Ministry of Environment and Waters announced.