Accidents October - December 2013

3 October 2013 - USA

Newtown, Anderson Township. Trajectory Technologies [Formerly One Shot Ammunition Manufacturing.]. According to FOX19, two men and a woman, who were: “[Recycling] spent ammunition at Trajectory Technologies and making them into new cartridges, were injured when something exploded.” Brian Hoyt, a spokesman for the state fire marshal, reportedly said: “Maybe some of the powder or residue collected over time and sparked.” He also said the ATF was at the scene today, but quickly left because there was no evidence that anything criminal had happened.

Lt. Tim Allen said: “The table in [sic] which the employees were working at caught the brunt of the explosion.” He said Trajectory Technologies, which used to be known as One Shot, removes the “blasting caps” [sic] from spent cartridges and attaches new ones. Allen allegedly said: “It’s a little cheaper way for the consumer to purchase instead of purchasing new all the time to just recycle the brass.”

We can only surmise that Trajectory Technologies acquires used, centre-fire, metal cartridge cases, refurbishes and refills them, and sells them. A common practice. However, the report suggests that: the reporters do not understand the process [Highly probable, Ed.]; Trajectory Technologies does not know its business; or the fire-fighters do not understand the business. [50%; 20%; 30%, Ed.]

5 October 2013 - UK

Essex, near Southend-on-Sea, Shoeburyness. MoD. QinetiQ. Around 10kg (22lb) of explosives were involved in a fire at a weapons testing centre at MoD Shoeburyness, according to Essex Fire Service.  The weapons testers were freed by MoD officers in an armoured personnel carrier, and there were no injuries. Five fire-fighting teams attended the incident, which happened at around 11:00.

A spokesman for QinetiQ, the private defence contractor that runs the munitions centre, said: “As part of routine in-service testing conducted on behalf of the MoD, a planned and remotely controlled test took place at MOD Shoeburyness today. A contained fire occurred at one of the Environmental Test Centre buildings on site following the test. No one was injured. The emergency services were called as part of standard procedures, their assistance was not required and they were subsequently stood down. An investigation is underway as part of our standard safety procedures.”

9 October - Algeria

30km west of Annaba, Oued El Aneb. Twenty-four gendarmes [Paramilitary police, Ed.] were injured during a training session on the firing range in the commune of Oued El Aneb, 30 km west of Annaba. The condition of thirteen of the gendarmes gave cause for concern, and they were evacuated to the emergency department of the hospital in Ibn Rochd.

According to preliminary information, the instructor, a Captain, was explaining to the gendarmes surrounding him the way to use a grenade. According to sources in the gendarmerie: “After having pulled the pin, the device accidentally exploded in his hand, causing, amongst other things, the amputation of his right arm, and injuries of varying degrees to the young soldiers surrounding him.”

12 October 2013 - Mali

Near Gao. A French soldier severely injured near Gao, in the north of Mali, by the explosion of munitions that he was working with. The injured soldier was rapidly evacuated to Gao, then to a military hospital in the Paris region.

According to the Staff, during a “zonal control” operation about 70km east of Gao to hunt down Islamic terrorists, the French soldiers discovered a cache of armes and munitions, notably rockets. A section of the Sixth Regiment of Engineers, based at Angers, was detailed to destroy the materiel, and it was during this operation that the explosion occurred.

13 October - India

Rajasthan, Alwar district, Bhiwadi. In one of the major hauls of explosives from Mewat region in the recent past, the police seized over 10 tonnes of ammonium nitrate along with other explosives from a village near Bhiwadi. The police could not make any arrest, but said that a mining mafia belonging to Haryana had stored these explosives after taking a house on rent.

According to additional SP, Bhiwadi, Anil Kayal, they received a tip-off that explosives were stored by a Haryana-based mining mafia in a house belonging to one Rajvir Yadav. Three men identified as Jakharia, Kallu and Rujdar had taken the house on rent and had allegedly stored the explosives. Kayal said: “A team raided the house and found explosives stored in over 200 sacks. The explosives included 10,350 kg of ammonium nitrate, 30 detonators, two bundles of safety fuses among some other things.” He added that the three men could not be found at the spot, saying: “They have been booked and teams have been formed to search for them.”

16 October 2013 - Armenia

An army officer, Captain Gevorg Mnatsakanyan – a commander of a field engineer company who had been serving in the armed forces since 2005 – was wounded by a mine explosion and died as a result. He sustained the fatal wound at around 20:30, while carrying out a combat matter at the control area of a military unit stationed at the north-eastern border of Armenia.

In addition, Senior Lieutenant Garush Hambardzumyan, who was in average critical condition, conscript Private Narek Hakobyan, who was in satisfactory condition, and conscript Private Edgar Harutyunyan, who was in average critical condition, were transferred to the MOD Central Garrison Military Hospital in capital city Yerevan. An investigation has been launched into the incident.

16 October 2013 - Australia

NSW, Lithgow. Australian Defence Force [ADF]. On October 19, it was reported that the Australian Defence Force was considering whether it accidentally sparked a fire during a training operation. Premier Barry O’Farrell refused to speculate on the cause of the fire, saying: “Let’s get the facts. I deal in facts.”

A statement was released by the ADF at 11:30 on October 19. It said the ADF was questioning whether an explosives training activity started the fire, which caused widespread damage, including the near-destruction of the Zig Zag Railway. According to the statement: “Defence today confirmed that it is investigating the circumstances of the State Mine Fire near Lithgow,New South Wales. The fire started on 16 October, the same day that Defence personnel were conducting an explosive ordnance training activity at Marangaroo Training Area. Defence is investigating if the two events are linked. The primary concern at this stage is for the safety of the communities in the vicinity of the fire, then the ongoing investigation which will review both the incident and Defence procedures.”

However, simultaneously on October 19, the RFS issued its highest emergency warning for fire burning between Lithgow and Bilpin and closed a number of roads in the area. It has also issued an emergency warning for Springwood, where 193 properties had already been destroyed. Rural Fire Service Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said: “This fire is by no means contained. It’s got absolutely kilometres and kilometres of fire front.”

Meanwhile, the Defence Department was investigating whether there was a link between the Lithgow fire and an explosives training exercise that took place at the Marrangaroo training area on the same day. An RFS spokesman told the AAP news agency that there were no fire bans in place during the training exercise and that it occurred a day before extreme conditions were expected. Premier Barry O’Farrell also said that there was no suggestion that the explosives testing had started the fire.

22 October 2013 - Russia

Pskov region, near Strugi Krasniye. An explosion at a military training site in western Russia killed six airborne forces soldiers and slightly injured two more. The Defence Ministry said preliminary information pointed to an accidental artillery ammunition explosion at the military training site in the Pskov region, where the soldiers were taking part in fire exercises. The ministry said: “An unidentified explosive device went off while Airborne Forces servicemen were returning in absolute darkness from the final line during qualifications at Range 714 near the populated area of Strugi Krasniye in the Pskov region on Tuesday. The explosion killed six Airborne Forces servicemen, and two other servicemen sustained injuries. They have been transported to the nearest medical institution.”

22 October 2013 - Slovakia

Nováky. Slovak Armed Forces: Military Maintenance Company (Vojenský opravárenský podnik-VOP). In the latest in a series of such incidents, a man was injured in a grenade blast at a shooting range at the Military Maintenance Company (Vojenský opravárenský podnik-VOP) in Nováky. Boris Chmel, spokesman for the Operational Centre of the Emergency Health Service, said the man was admitted to the hospital in Bojnice in a serious condition, with injuries to his abdomen, head and arm.

Armed Forces spokesman Milan Vanga said that the man was a civilian employee of VOP’s centre for grenade testing. He sustained the injuries during a URG-86 grenade test. Defence Ministry State Secretary Miloš Koterec and Chief-of-General-Staff of the Slovak Armed Forces Peter Vojtek visited VOP, arranging for the accident to be investigated by the military police and the area to be checked by bomb disposal experts.

The company has been plagued by uncontrolled explosions over the past few years. Eight people were killed and another 37 were injured at VOP when a large amount of ammunition ignited at the company’s defusing hall in March 2007. [HInt 07-03a, 070302-04.] In 2012, one person was killed and three people sustained minor injuries in a grenade explosion in the military area adjacent to VOP. [HInt 12-03a, 120307-03.]

According to Vojtek, all the grenades tested on October 22 were checked the previous day by x-ray, and their mechanical parts were deemed to be in order. He added: “Practical tests of grenades were carried out on that day. Overall, 23 grenades were tested and passed as being in order. It was likely that when the 24th grenade was being thrown when the explosive ignited. The employee had all the protective equipment and all protective measures were observed. Despite this, he suffered injuries. Experts will now look into how the grenade could have ignited when all the mechanical parts were intact in their proper place.” A likely outcome of the investigation will be an army ban on the use of this particular type of grenade, Vojtek said, with the remaining 130,000 grenades incinerated.

30 October 2013 - Italy

Roma/Rome, province of Latina, Gaeta. A Second World War bomb, weighing 125 kg, was recovered by divers of the Demining Centre, taken four kilometres from the port, and detonated. The province of Latina is constantly affected by the discovery of highly dangerous material, dating back to the Second World War in particular.

Seven Navy divers raised the weapon from the seabed and transferred the 125 kilograms anti-ship mine to the area designated for the explosion. The bomb was towed by a motorboat to about 4km off Punta dello Stendardo, to depth of 90 metres. Once it reached the forbidden area, divers prepared the mine for the next explosion, which occurred at 09:27. Despite the depth, the shock wave raised a very high and spectacular water column, visible from the coast.

4 November 2013 - China

Shanghai, Zhabei and Qingpu districts. Seven explosive shells were unearthed during road works in two parts of the city. Four were uncovered at a crossroads in Zhabei District by workers laying cables, while another three were dug up in Qingpu District.

In Zhabei, a team working at Yongxing Road and Hongxing Road found a shell 1.6 metres down at 10:20. Team leader Zhang Jian said he discovered the copper object while digging a trench to lay electronic data cables. Zhang said his experience serving in the army told him that it might be a shell. He removed mud from the object and lifted it from the ground. He said it was 45 centimetres long, 15cm in diameter and weighed 40 kilograms. Police and fire-fighters took the shell away at around noon. However, an hour later, the cable-laying team unearthed three more shells 1.8 metres down. This time fire-fighters arrived wearing anti-explosion suits, and took the shells away in an anti-explosion vehicle.

Meanwhile, at about 10:15, workers found three shells at a construction site on Yingshun Road in Qingpu District. Fire authorities said the shells would be safely destroyed. No details were given of the age or type of shells recovered.

4 November 2013 - USA

Phoenix. Arizona authorities were questioning the circumstances of an explosion that tore off part of a man’s foot after determining the stories told by witnesses were not true, and that the property where a munitions maker once tested bomb-making materials was supposed to be vacant.

Maricopa County Sheriff’s Deputy Joaquin Enriquez, an office spokesman, said a 26-year-old woman living on the land in New River called emergency services to report that a man helping her move had been injured by a falling refrigerator. When investigators arrived at the scene, more than a mile from the nearest home, they discovered that Steven [L] was injured by an explosive and was missing part of his left leg.

In 1997, federal agents raided the same property and discovered enough explosives to support a small army. At the time, Charles Byers, a former munitions manufacturer, lived there. He later pleaded guilty in federal court to illegally possessing grenade fuses and manufacturing ammunition. He was sentenced to probation. In 1999, a state task force declared the 120-acre ranch safe after removing thousands of pounds of chemical explosives, including materials to make grenades and booby traps.

Enriquez said the explosive that went off was not buried in the ground, and appeared to be an improvised device. An EOD squad was expected to be sweeping the property for several days. While authorities had not ruled out the possibility that the device that injured [L] was left over from the 1999 cleanup, they now said it could be unrelated.

On November 5, investigators said that Jordan [P] and Chelsie [G], who called 911, were allegedly squatting at the property. Enriquez said the investment group that owns the land said no one had been authorized to live there for at least six months. The property did not have functioning utilities. Enriquez said: “All three people are investigative leads. We want to see if the story they’re going to tell us matches what the bomb technicians are telling us on the scene.”

[G] denied the property owners’ claims, and instead pointed to the previous property owners as being responsible for the device that took half of the victim’s leg. [G] said she, [P], her two children and another woman had been renting the home for the last three months, but chose to move out on November 4 because the property did not “feel right”. [G] said she found pieces of explosive devices within a mile of the home in the past two months and that no one currently living at the residence was making anything that would be considered dangerous or illegal.

On November 13, it was announced that three weathered grenades have been found on the property. Deputy Joaquin Enriquez said EOD technicians found three “very weathered” grenades on the property after an extensive sweep. The investigation remained ongoing.

Dr. James Schamadan, who was appointed by then-Arizona Gov. Jane Hull to head a team overseeing the 1997 cleanup, said the explosion may have been caused by leftover materials. Schamadan said federal authorities initially planned to blow up the hut instead of removing the explosives, but environmental concerns sidelined that option. In anticipation of the initial plan, however, Schamadan said authorities built a [bund] around it by bulldozing dirt from the property into large piles. Authorities have said the explosion last week occurred around the [bund]. Schamadan said the [bund] was created before his team swept the property for remaining explosives.

6 November 2013 - UK

Essex, Rainham. RSPB Rainham Marshes. On the morning of November 6, warden Nicole Khan came across an unexploded mortar bomb while working with a contractor at RSPB Rainham Marshes. Contractors were on site re-profiling the land to improve the area for wading birds and ducks on the former Ministry of Defence owned site, when the 2-inch mortar shell was found.

An Essex Police spokes said: “We were called at around 08:30, to reports that workmen had dug up a potentially explosive device. A bomb disposal unit attended the scene and conducted a controlled explosion at 13:00.”

Communications officer for RSPB Rainham Marsh, Louise Moss, told local media: “A sliver of metal caught Nicole’s eye somehow, we informed the police and they couldn’t confirm whether it was a dud or not so they destroyed it in a controlled explosion. As a former MoD firing range these things happen occasionally, but we are very low-risk and they hadn’t found anything for a couple of years until this.”

7 November 2013 - China

Hong Kong, Kowloon Bay. Bomb disposal squads were dispatched after a Second World War bomb was found in Kowloon Bay. Construction workers discovered a bomb 78 centimetres long and 20cm diameter in a three-metre-deep hole at the Kowloon Bay construction site of the Sha Tin to Central Link near Kai Ching Estate. It weighed 113 kilograms. Fire-fighters and police blocked the site while calling the police bomb disposal squad to assist. The squad confirmed that it was an air-dropped bomb made in the United States. Though there was a potential threat in removing it from the site, the squad found that detonating it could also endanger nearby homes. The squad opened up the bomb with special equipment and burned up the explosive material inside with low heat. Senior bomb disposal officer Jimmy Yuen Hon-wing believed the bomb was dropped by the US Air Force in 1945. It contained 90kg of explosives, which would have affected an area 50 to 100 metres from the centre.

7 November 2013 - China

Hong Kong, The Peak. Bomb disposal squads were dispatched after a Second World War bomb was found on The Peak. At about 16:00, a janitor found a 60cm long and 15cm diameter shell weighing 36kg while he was clearing weeds on Lugard Road at The Peak. Police found the Second World War bomb was British made. Since the bomb was unstable, the bomb disposal squad detonated it in a controlled explosion around 19:00.

9 November 2013 - Mexico

State of Oaxaca, Juchitán, Álvaro Obregón. Police were investigating the owner of a lot where an explosion occurred in a room “fitted out as a tinderbox to make rockets”. Around 07:30, the command of the State Investigation Agency (AEI), received an anonymous phone call, which reported a fire in an area where are located a few magazines, in the aforementioned place.

Elements of AEI moved to that location to corroborate such information, where were also present State Police, the Mexican Army, and the Heroic Fire-fighters being greeted by Pedro Carrasco De La Cruz, who said that on the land were two magazines and pyrotechnics workshop. Witness said that in the early hours of [November 9], he was awakened by multiple explosions in these magazines, and thought it would be gun shots, only at dawn he realized that he had heard the blasts of several rockets exploding. According to preliminary investigations, the police managed to establish that these magazines do not currently have the appropriate permit from the Ministry of Defence to manufacture, so it is presumed that the workshop works clandestinely.

11 November 2013 - India

Kerala, Kalpetta, Muthanga. More than six tonnes of ammonium nitrate, a chemical used in explosives, was seized at Muthanga on the Kerala-Karnataka border and two persons were arrested. Excise Officials seized 6,750 kg of ammonium nitrate, while carrying out routine inspection; they also seized the vehicle used for transporting the chemical. The accused, Hakeem and Ishak, of Mudigera taluk in Chikkamagaluru district of Karnataka, told Excise Officials that they were transporting the chemical to a quarry in Kozhikode district.

13 November 2013 - USA

CA, Oceanside. USMC: Camp Pendleton. Four Marines performing maintenance on a live fire training range died at Camp Pendleton. They were explosive ordnance disposal technicians who died in an explosion during a range sweep for unexploded munitions. The cause of the accident, which occurred about 11:00 in the Zulu impact area in the centre of the Marine base adjoining Oceanside, was under investigation.

Mortar and artillery live fire exercises were scheduled for the Zulu/Whiskey area of Camp Pendleton for November 13, beginning at 06:00 and continuing all day and night, according to the Camp Pendleton noise advisory. However, 1st Lt. Ryan Finnegan, a base spokesman, said no explosives training was active in the Zulu area at the time of the accident. The high explosive munitions training in the Whiskey area was continuing as scheduled after the accident, he added.

14 November - Colombia

Department of/Département de Vichada, near the City of Cumaribo. Three children were killed and a fourth injured by an explosion in an area used for training by the Colombian military.

Rosendo Rey, a spokesman for the city of Cumaribo, said the children – ages 7, 9 and 13 – had crossed the area to care for the family’s cows. The area is used for training by a motorized battalion headquartered near the city. Rey said no military exercises were being conducted at the time of the explosion.

Officials with the Eighth Battalion said in a statement that the site had not been used for training for more than a month. Rey said it was not yet known if the explosive device belonged to the army or had been placed by insurgents.

16 November - Mexico

Puebla state, Cholula city, San Pedro Cholula municipality San Cristobal Tepontla. At 17:55, local headquarters received a report of an explosion of a powder magazine on Zapotec Hill, belonging to the community of San Cristobal Tepontla. Although the state director of Civil Protection, Jesus Morales Flores, denied the facts, his staff, along with elements of Fire and Public Safety in San Pedro Cholula, and staff and five units of Advanced Medical Emergency Service, toured the Zapotec hilltop to find the place of detonation. The Municipal Civil Protection director, Violeta Xaltempa Galán, verified that the workshop has a work permit from the Ministry of National Defence.

The municipal police confirmed the gunpowder explosion. There were no injuries, and property damage was limited to four fences of hurricane mesh netting that fell within a radius of five metres. Police noted that this place was a few metres from a powder magazine that exploded on June 5. [HInt 13-06a, 130605-03.]

22 November 2013 - Colombia

Risaralda Department, Dosquebradas, El Cofre. Pájaro Loco [Woodpecker] Gunpowder. Four people were injured in an explosion in a gunpowder factory. This was anticipated as the authorities had had problems with safety at the plant, owned by Luz Marina Ortiz Castaño, which had been accused of inadequate management of work space and storage of gunpowder. For these reasons, 100 kg of gunpowder that were ready to be sent to the headquarters, El Vaquero, in Bogota, were seized last week. But before that authorities had made them relocate the manufacturing site, a large patio that includes housing, to avoid further risks.

On November 22, the lack of care took its toll at 10:30 inside the house where they make gunpowder, an explosion occurred, apparently caused by mishandling of materials by one of the workers. Isabel Osorio, a worker at the factory, said: “We were doing churrillos and esos [Possibly types of fireworks, or parts of fireworks, Ed.] … I had come to the house for a moment and when I looked out, I heard a noise in the house and I thought it was all going to burn, but we all ran with buckets of water and put it out in a moment.”

Moments after the incident, the fire department arrived and found that there was greater danger. Eighteen people were working when the explosion occurred, and four employees were taken to hospital in Santa Monica Dosquebradas with second-degree wounds to the hands, arms and chest. Fire Commander, Lina María Marín Rodríguez, said that indeed everything was caused by mishandling of gunpowder and it was unfortunate that despite the campaigns that have been made to stop untrained people from manipulating gunpowder, these cases continue to occur.

Nevertheless, Luz Marina Ortiz showed their permits to hold the office and factory, which supports 20 dependent families and that has been there more than 30 years. She and her employees were worried what will happen to their source of income after the incident, claiming it is all they have for the cost of the coming Christmas, adding: “This factory is not invented, it is legally there and we have done all the settings you have asked us, we do not expect to get hurt knowing that we have everything in order.”

28 November 2013 - Libya

650km south of Tripoli, near Sabha, Brak al-Shati. At least ten people were killed in an explosion at a weapons depot in Brak al-Shati, close to Sabha in southern Libya. The explosion was believed to have occurred after a group of people, reportedly including African immigrants, were trying to steal copper and ammunition. The injured were being treated at a hospital close to the depot.

General Mohamed al-Dhabi said that “a group of unknown people tried to attack the depot, causing this unfortunate incident”. He said ten people had died and fifteen had been injured. The privately-owned Libyan news agency al-Tadamun said more than 30 people had been killed.

Although it was unclear what caused the explosion that set off a fire, a security official said that the explosion occurred as a group of locals and Africans tried to steal ammunition. Khalifa Alsghair, commander of a border security guard brigade in Brak al-Shati confirmed the number of deaths, though medics in the hospital said the figure was probably too high because they had received fewer bodies and only a handful of injured.

In October, British sources claimed that an abandoned munitions depot had been discovered in the desert near the town of Sabha. The depot contained 4,000 ground-air missiles and 6,600 barrels of uranium concentrate, according to the IAEA. It was not yet known whether this was the same depot.

4 December 2013 - Portugal

Centro Region, Leiria. Polvichumbo SA. One person died and two were seriously injured in an explosion at about 13:20 in a factory making ammunition for hunting and sport in the Portuguese city of Leiria, 160 kilometres from Lisbon. The explosion was followed by fire that was mastered in less than an hour by more than 40 fire-fighters from the towns of Leiria, Maceira, and Batalha. A fire-fighter suffered minor injuries during the rescue operations.

Several entities, including the Judicial Police and the Authority for Working Conditions, were investigating the possible causes of the explosion that occurred in the early afternoon. One of those seriously injured that had been treated at the Hospital de Santo André (Leiria) was later transferred to the Centro Hospitalar e Universitário de Coimbra, due to the severity of their injuries.

Arthur Figueiredo, Chief Fire-fighter of the Municipality de Leiria, did not discount the hypothesis of more victims inside the premises, where five workers were at the time of the explosion .

This was the first serious accident reported in the company, which has operated for about 20 years with the use of hazardous raw materials, inherent in their business, such as gunpowder and other explosive materials .

8 December 2013 - Serbia

Beograd/Belgrade, Dorcol district. An unexploded German bomb from the Second World War was unearthed in Dorcol, Belgrade’s central area. The one-tonne bomb, containing 620 kg of explosive, was found during construction work. Authorities evacuated twenty people from a neighbouring building.

Prime Minister Ivica Dacic, who visited the site, told national media: “If it had exploded, this immensely powerful bomb would have destroyed the entire district.”

For a politician to visit the site, we can be sure that there was little or no risk of an explosion.

The bomb was taken by truck to a military training area in north-west Serbia, to be destroyed in a controlled explosion.

10 December 2013 - Israel

Golan Heights. IDF. Four IDF soldiers were injured when an explosion occurred inside their tank during a routine training exercise in the southern Golan Heights. A medical team evacuated the soldiers, members of Division 401’s 9th Battalion, by helicopter to Rambam Hospital in Haifa. Two of the soldiers suffered severe injuries, one was mildly injured, and a fourth was lightly injured as a result of smoke inhalation. All four were out of mortal danger by midnight.

A senior officer in the armoured corps explained that the tank crew was taking part in a fire drill when a shell jammed in the tank’s cannon. While the crew was trying to extract the shell, the shell broke, spilling gunpowder in the tank’s interior. Fifteen minutes after cleaning off the powder, one of the soldiers laid a hot, used gun barrel in the crate containing the broken shell. He then switched to a spare gun barrel and continued firing. The heat from the barrel and the ongoing shooting, combined with the remnants of the gunpowder, apparently set off an explosion. According to the officer, an initial investigation found no signs of negligence in the soldiers’ actions during the incident, saying: “The soldiers acted in accordance with army procedure. Instinctively, you place the barrel in the crate; it’s standard procedure. Further details are still unclear and are under investigation.” The IDF launched a full-scale investigation of the incident.

17 December 2013 - Norway

Nordland, Mosjøen. A truck loaded with 15 tonnes of liquid explosives detonated in a quarry at Drevja, near Mosjön. The whole area at Drevja north of Mosjön was reportedly shaken by the very sharp bang. Burning debris from the truck ignited a house nearby. The road was blocked, and the 30 to 40 staff at the construction site were evacuated.

The police were notified of the fire in a truck filled with liquid explosives at 13:15; two hours later, state-run radio NRK announced that the truck had exploded. Mette Horsberg, of Helgeland police, said: “There has been an explosion in the area. Most likely it is the truck with the explosives that have gone into the air. The safety zone of 1,000 metres around the site maintained until further notice. We do not know whether the risk of explosion is over.

Egil Pettersen of police NTB said: “We are talking about 15 tonnes of explosives, which are in the cargo compartment of the vehicle. We do not know what kind of explosive it is, except that it is liquid.

Before the truck exploded, NPRA project manager Steinar Livik said: “It caught fire in the engine compartment of the vehicle. Construction workers tried to extinguish the fire, but did not succeed with it. It was then made a decision to evacuate the area and let the fire continue.

On December 22, it was reported that, as a result of the shockwave, around 1,500 pigs faced emergency slaughter. The farmer told local media that the pigs experienced the enormous pressure wave, and were now suffering a shortage of food and water: “They’ll probably have to undergo emergency slaughter. The building is destroyed and the automatic feeding and ventilation system has shut down.”

19 December 2013 - Haiti

East of Port-au-Prince, zone of Balan (Ganthier). The United Nations Mission for Stabilization in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and the National Police of Haiti (PNH) carried-out a joint operation of controlled destruction by explosion of 8.3 tons of obsolete munitions and explosives in the zone of Balan (Ganthier) east of Port-au-Prince.

Richard Boulter, Chief Weapons and Ammunition Management Advisor of the United Nations Mine Action Service [UNMAS], who led the operation, said: “Ammunition consisted of bullets, grenades, but also rockets.”

Sophie Boutaud de la Combe, spokeswoman of the Minustah, said: “Among the destroyed ammunitions were lethal and non-lethal ammunition and explosives such as bullets for pistols or rifles, including some seized by the PNH, as well as grenades used in policing and peacekeeping operations.”

This ammunition destruction took place in seven stages, beginning December 17, Step 1 being site preparation and the launching of an awareness and information campaign aimed at the population of the neighbouring areas of Ganthier, Balan, and the nearby fishing villages. A security cordon was installed on December 18, (Step 3), along with transport of munitions (Step 4), and preparation of the 15 pits (Step 5). The actual destruction of munitions and explosives (Step 6) took place in several controlled phases beginning at 08:30 on December 19.

We can only assume that Step 2 was kept in reserve.

The immediate rehabilitation of the terrain (including the collection of possible debris and back-filling the pits) as well as site inspection with the relevant authorities (Step 7) were also part of the operation.

Ms Boutaud de la Combe said: “The controlled destruction of obsolete ammunition is the best way to fight against illicit trafficking of explosives and ammunition and, thus, safeguard the lives of security personnel and the public. … Today’s operation shows the determination of the PNH to continue to professionalize its functioning and minimize risks associated with expired or unusable ammunition.”

20 December 2013 - Brasil/Brazil

131220-06-A Pernambuco, Zona da Mata Sul. Elephante. One person died and two people were injured in the explosion of gunpowder at the Elephante factory, in the Atlantic Forest Zone of Pernambuco. The injured were rescued by a fire department vehicle.

On December 29, a second victim of the explosion died. The body was sent to the Institute of Forensic Medicine (IML) of Recife. Another patient who was also injured in the blast, a 36-year-old machinery operator, remained in the ICU of Hospital da Restauração [HR].

According to the Fire Department, the accident happened around 09:00 when two explosions were heard in a factory unit where seven employees were cleaning. The plant lacked electricity at the time of the accident .

31 December 2013 - Philippines

Basilan province, Sumisip town, Tumahubong village. Six people were killed and six others were injured when an improvised bomb exploded in a New Year attack in a remote village of Basilan province. Jefferson Somera, public information officer of the 1st Army Division said the improvised explosive device exploded at 21:00 near a parish church at Tumahubong village. The identities of five of the civilian fatalities have been confirmed while another minor remained unidentified. The wounded were immediately brought to the 64th Infantry Battalion headquarters for first aid treatment before they were airlifted to the military hospital in Zamboanga.