explosion in Albanian town of Gerdec ammunition depot kills 25 and injures hundreds
Tirana, Ablania 16. March 2008
story and photos by: Agron Dragaj
On midday 15th March 2008. huge explosion stroke village of Gerdec 20 km north of Tirana. Five consecutive blasts were heard also in Kosova, Macedonia and Greece.
A year ago as a part of ammunition decommission campaign started, Ministry of Defence and the government of albania contracted an US based private company SACI to start decommission of artillery shells remaining of some 100 tons of expired ammunition. however as the tragedy claimed so far 21 lives and 300 injured, controversy about the location, contracts and the methodology used to dismantle ammunition remains to be revealed yet as the investigation is continuing. Amid ongoing investigation by the tirana chief persecutor Ina Rama, allegations that also in the depot underage children have been employed is adding further believe that entire process hasn't been according to minimum safety standards. also the decommissioning factory was suited in the middle of Gerdec urban area.
four villages have been affected by the blast and some 4,000 people have been evacuated from the area as the search, rescue and clearing operation is ongoing. So far 1000 hectare of land has been infested with unexploded and exploded ordinances while some three hundred has been cleared and marked by Albanian Army special forces and engineers.
Minister of Defence Mr. Fatmir Mediu has offered his resignation to the PM.