Monday, March 17, 2008

Albania: Albanian ammunitions dump explosion - desperate search for survivors

Rescue worked into the night in a desperate bid to find nine people following a chain of massive explosions that destroyed an Albanian ammunition dump and hundreds of nearby houses, killing at least nine and injuring nearly 300.

Defence Ministry spokesman Igli Hasani said the operation would continue "for as long as needed," but rescuers - assisted by US military explosives experts - were hampered by large quantities of unexploded artillery shells.

"The search operation will continue into the night with limited groups of experts," he said on Sunday.

Saturday's explosions in the village of Gerdec, about 10km north of Tirana, scattered shells over an area of 1,000 hectares, Hasani said.

Prime Minister Sali Berisha said the explosions were an accident: blasts triggered during work to destroy excess ammunition stockpiled during Albania's Communist past.

Related i On Global Trends article: Defense: Albania offers to give surplus ammo to Iraq and Afghanistan

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