- Title: ALBANIA: People survey devastation caused by munitions blasts in Albania
- Date: 16th March 2008
- Summary: (BN09) GERDEC, ALBANIA (MARCH 16, 2008) (REUTERS) MILITARY POLICE AT ENTRANCE TO VILLAGE OF GERDEC VARIOUS EXTERIORS OF HOUSES DAMAGED BY EXPLOSION INTERIOR OF DAMAGED HOUSE DAMAGED CAR DAMAGED FARM BUILDINGS AND HOUSE COW AND ITS HEIFER TRAPPED IN PARTIALLY COLLAPSED FARM BUILDING VARIOUS OF VILLAGER FREES THE HEIFER, FARM BUILDING PARTIALLY COLLAPSES
- Embargoed: 31st March 2008 13:00
- Location: Albania
- Country: Albania
- Topics: Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes
- Reuters ID: LVA6FTU95TAEZ5HPIG35RTOG0DIX
- Story Text: Buildings lie in ruins and smoke rises from craters in the landscape caused by hugh munitions blasts at an Albanian army base which caused 6 deaths and injury to hundreds of people.
Six people have been confirmed dead after a string of blasts on Saturday (March 15) razed an army base stocking obsolete munitions for destruction near the Albanian capital Tirana.
More than 240 were injured, half of them seriously, with burns, concussion, broken limbs, or cuts from flying glass and shrapnel.
On Sunday (March 16), the day after the explosions, the landscape was strewn with debris from blown-out buildings. The blasts had created craters, some as long as 50 metres in diameter and 20 metres deep.
In the village of Gerdec, near the army base, several homes stood only as skeletons, the bricks around their concrete pillars shattered and the roof tiles blown all over the hillside. The shockwave uprooted shrubs and cut olive trees down to stumps.
Thousands of big and small artillery shells, some unexploded, littered the area. Chickens lay dead, struck by shrapnel.
People tried to free livestock from the rubble of their stalls.
Some 400 Albanian troops searched for survivors of the huge munitions blasts.
The explosions began when workers were moving stocks of old Chinese and Soviet shells stored at the base, a central collection point for the arsenal amassed by the communist-era dictatorship.
Albania has been trying for years to dismantle the obsolete arsenal, set as one of the conditions for the country to join NATO.
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