Thursday, December 29, 2011

Explosion kills up to 23 people in Rangoon

Thursday, 29 December 2011 08:34 Mizzima News

Mizzima News –  Up to 23 people died and more than 70 people were injured in a huge explosion in a state-owned chemical storage warehouse in Mingalar Taungnyunt Township in Rangoon early Thursday morning.

The explosion and fire damaged nearly 100 structures in the area, including many residential homes and commercial buildings, authorities said. Six firefighters were among the dead. The number of dead and injured could continue to rise, authorities said.

Several smaller explosions followed the first blast, around 2 a.m., and a fire quickly spread through a neighborhood filled with wooden structures. 

Six warehouse out of 23, which are reportedly the Commerce Ministry's property, were destroyed. One warehouse was said to contain enamel and chemicals, including ammonia and sulfuric acid, which is believed to have caused the explosion.

Witnesses said that parts of bodies were sent flying in the air due to the explosion.

Residents living near the warehouses said that a night shift guard’s family was in a warehouse and is believed to have died in the blast. A number of firemen are believed to be among the dead and injured. Six smaller explosions occurred and two fire engines and two boats docked in the river were damaged.

Two onlookers were killed when stones struck them during the explosions, according to witnesses. Thousands of onlookers dispersed because of fear that more explosions could occur.

"The scene was chaotic. We were running and stones were falling on the streets," an onlooker told Mizzima by telephone.

Stones and debris were scattered in a 400 or 500 yard radius, a witness said.

Another resident said that many people were hit by debris. “I could see many people running and covered with blood,” the witness said.

More than 70 houses in Kutohseik quarter and some in the neighboring Aryonoo quarter collapsed in the explosion and fire.

Residents in nearby townships told Mizzima via telephone that they heard a loud explosion at 2 a.m.

At mid-morning, rescue workers were still searching for bodies among the debris. A security official said the total number of dead could rise.

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