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Enschede Fireworks Factory Accident - May 13, 2000

S.E. Fireworks, a company that stores fireworks articles, is located in the middle of the working class housing estate of Mekkelholt in the northern Dutch city of Enschede. On 13 May 2000, two explosions in a fireworks warehouse detonated an estimated 100 tonnes of explosives. The blast was felt up to 30 kilometers away. Within minutes the surrounding residential quarter was devasted. Some 400 apartments were reduced to cinders, another 1000 were damaged. The resulting fires are also said to have caused the release of hazardous asbestos. After the explosion 22 people (4 firefighters) were found dead, 947 were injured, many of them seriously.

According to media reports, the directors of the factory are suspected of producing highly hazardous fireworks without the necessary authorisation and illegally storing material on the premises. The operating permit related only to the storage and assembly, not to the production of fireworks articles.

The victims of the tragedy will receive DEM 6.6 million in immediate relief from the National Disaster Fund of the Netherlands.

Cologne Re estimates that the explosion caused NLG 500 million in insured losses. This sum comprises the cost of reconstructing the devasted buildings, medical treatment for the injured and business interruptions at the Grolsch brewery.

It is the worst accident in Europe with off-site consequences for over 50 years!