Deadly blast at Spreewerk munitions disposal plant in Germany | News | DW | 18.03.2018
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Deadly blast at Spreewerk munitions disposal plant in Germany

A blast at a munitions disposal plant in eastern Germany has claimed one life. Emergency crews have recovered the body of a man, thought to be an employee.

Brandenburg regional state police said crews who entered the works area damaged by the blast assumed the body found late Saturday was that of a missing 55-year-old employee.

Friday's morning's blast occurred on a 180-hectare (445-acre) site southeast of Berlin operated by Spreewerk, a firm that disposes of old munitions, dud bombs from World War Two, unused commercial blasting materials and pyrotechnic fireworks.

Debris was reportedly tossed 100 meters.

Read moreThe ticking time bombs of WWII

Spreewerk belongs to a Dresden-based concern, Spezialtechnik, which is connected to General Atomics, a San Diego-based defense contractor specializing in nuclear physics.

In 2002, Lübben Spreewerk was also the scene of a chain-reaction blast that killed four people while they were dismantling four bombs.

Dud munitions are still found across Germany

Dud munitions are still found across Germany

During Soviet rule until 1989, Lübben's Spreewerk was a major producer in communist East Germany of munitions for handguns.

Cautious

The regional newspaper, Lautsitzer Rundschau (LR), reported Saturday that local firefighters assisted by members of Germany's THW technical relief service had worked their way cautiously towards the rubble.

Photos were first obtained from a police helicopter and then close-ups were taken using a robot. Embers were extinguished mid-afternoon. THW workers had secured what was left of the building, the LR said. 

Regular inspections

The local Dahme-Spreewald county administration said its last periodic inspection of the works was in 2017 when emergency crews also rehearsed coordinated responses.

In advisory notices to the surrounding population on its website, Spreewerk acknowledged the risk of malfunctions but said its precautionary "state of the art" concept was certified and updated to the maximum to prevent accidents.

The firm aims for ecological recycling of waste so recovered materials can be reused for civilian purposes.

ipj/jm (dpa, AFP)

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