Albania’s Blast Explosion

Some 1,000 soldiers and 500 policemen search for victims throughout the disaster zone, with unexploded shells and munitions from the communist-era military depot still littering the dangerous site. As the country declares a day of national mourning, three people are arrested for negligence.
Two children carrying flowers appear to be distressed and in emotional pain, as they stand outside their property after a chain of massive explosions at an ammunition depot over the weekend killed 26 people and leave over 300 injured near the Tirana capital of Albania on Sunday, March 16, 2008. (VX Photo by Vudi Xhymshiti)

Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha said the death toll from Saturday’s massive explosion at an army ammunition dump near Tirana is likely to rise.

The series of blasts killed at least five people and injured 243, including many children, authorities said.

“I have lost everything, my family, my house, I’m devastated,” said one injured man.
Army and police forces resumed search-and-rescue operations early morning on Sunday.

VX Pictures images showed huge explosions and balls of fire rising from the site, destroying buildings nearby.

Shrapnel and shell fragments rained down seriously damaging homes and vehicles.

Health Minister Nard Ndoka said earlier that many of the injured were children. Authorities evacuated 4,000 people from three villages and the surrounding area using armoured personnel carriers, Berisha said. By the time the search and rescue operation was called off on Saturday night, rescue crews had managed to get within 10 metres (33 feet) of the blast site, he said, adding that the operation would resume early Sunday morning.

The destruction of ammunition at the dump was being carried out by an Albanian company that had been subcontracted by a US company, Southern Ammunition Company Inc. of Loris, South Carolina, Berisha said.

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