- Blast caused by chemical accident in explosives department.
- Officials say probe into incident underway, rule out sabotage.
- President Tayyip Erdogan sympathises with bereaved families.
At least five people were killed and dozens injured after a huge blast at an arms and ammunition factory in Turkey, authorities reported Saturday, while ruling out any sabotage amid scanty details released by the country’s defence ministry.
The explosion occurred at a state-owned Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation factory in the Elmadag district, located 40 kilometres east of the Turkish capital, Ankara, on Saturday morning.
According to the BBC, the explosion caused several other injuries and broke windows in adjacent homes and businesses.
Authorities said that an accident in the factory’s explosives department was to blame for the explosion.
Meanwhile, state media stated that injured personnel had been transported to nearby hospitals, and regional governor Vahap Sahin said that no more employees or staff members were still trapped in the rubble.
However, many are reportedly in critical condition.
Sahin told reporters that the explosion was the result of a chemical reaction, according to technical staff, and that it happened at 08:45 am local time (05:45 GMT).
Alpaslan Kavaklioglu, the deputy defence minister, said in a statement that investigators had reviewed a video taken inside the structure just before the explosion and found nothing out of the norm up to the moment of the explosion.
“Our workers were carrying out their normal activities, and the explosion happened suddenly,” he added.
Pictures from the plant showed ambulances there, and it’s been reported that firefighters are putting out a number of small fires. Many family members gathered in the interim to get updates on their loved ones.
Regional prosecutors stated they were looking into what happened, and the Ministry of Defence announced that judicial and administrative investigations have begun about the incident.
Turkish Defence Minister Yasar Guler briefed newly re-elected Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the incident, according to a statement from his office. President Erdogan expressed his sympathies to the families of the victims, according to the defence ministry.
Furthermore, the factory produces missiles for the Turkish armed forces.