CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Fires and explosions
23 January 2005
Hospital, Nasiriyah, Iraq
Fire swept through the general hospital in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah early today, killing 14 people and injuring 75, said a spokesman for the Italian military forces based in the city. The blaze at the Nasiriyah General Hospital was believed to have been caused by an electrical fault, the fire department said. The injured were transferred to another hospital in the city, about 200 mile south-east of Baghdad. Col. Francesco Tirino, a spokesman for the Italian contingent in Nasiriyah, said that 14 people died and 75 were injured. The Italians received an emergency call at around 2:00 hours, shortly after the fire broke out. The blaze was extinguished four hours later, Tirino said, and the Italians returned to their base. Most of the injured were taken to a paediatric hospital in Nasiriyah, while three, who were in serious condition, were taken to a field hospital run by the Italians.
28 January 2005
Mont Blanc Tunnel, France
The Italian operator of the Mont Blanc tunnel this week paid 13.5-million-euro (USD 17.5 million) into an account for the families of 39 people killed in a 1999 blaze in the Alpine link but has not admitted blame, according to a grouping of the families concerned. The SITMB company paid the money into a French escrow account where it would stay until 80 per cent of the 238 family members of those killed agreed to accept it as a settlement, the head of the Association in Defence of the Families, Andre Denis, said late yesterday. SITMB’s lawyer, Bernard Asso, confirmed the transaction, but stressed: “This is not an acknowledgement of liability.” The Italian company is one of 16 parties to be represented at a manslaughter trial opening Monday (31 January) that will seek to apportion responsibility for the tragedy. The other companies and individuals include the Belgian driver of the truck which was the origin of the fire; the truck’s manufacturer, Volvo; the French managers of the tunnel, the ATMB; safety regulators; the mayor of the town of Chamonix; and a senior official from the French public works ministry.
9 February 2005
Coal mine, Kemerovo region, Siberia, Russia
Approximately nine workers were killed and 17 others went missing in a explosion at a coal mine in Siberia today, the Itar-Tass News Agency reported. Over 30 miners and experts were underground at the time of the blast at the Yesaulskaya mine in the Kemerovo region of Siberia, some 3,000 km east of Moscow. An initial report said it was apparently a methane blast. Rescuers were still searching for the 17 missing people who were trapped underground, said the report, adding four people were slightly injured and taken to a local hospital.
10 February 2005. An explosion in a Russian coal mine has killed 21 people and four people were missing, the Emergencies Ministry said. Rescuers were trying to reach the missing miners, who were 2 km from the surface at the pit in Siberia’s Kemerovo region, though it was unclear if they were alive, media reports said.
11 February 2005. The section of the Yesaulskaya mine in Kuzbass where a methane gas explosion occurred on Wednesday (9 February) will be flooded, the Kemerovo region’s Governor Aman Tuleyev told journalists in Novokuznetsk today. “Only the disaster area, not the whole mine, will be inundated,” Tuleyev said. Experts have not yet given the green light for further search efforts in the mine, a source in the government commission investigating the accident told Interfax. “The past few hours have seen a slight reduction in methane gas levels in the disaster area. However, it is too early now to talk about resuming the search and rescue operation,” the source said.
11 February 2005
Factory, Nanguanzhuang, Shanxi Province, China
At least ten workers were killed, six others seriously injured when an explosion ripped through a steel factory in north China’s Shanxi Province. The accident occurred in a steel factory located in Yicheng County’s Nanguanzhuang village when molten iron leaked from the hearth of a steel-making stove. At the time of the accident, 24 people were working in the Zhaoxin Metallurgical Ltd steel factory, Xinhua News Agency reported. Six people remain in hospital and an investigation into the cause is underway, Xinhua report said.
16 February 2005
Coal mine, Songlin, Yunan Province, China
An explosion at an illegal coal mine in southern China killed five and left 17 missing, the government said today. The accident occurred yesterday afternoon in Songlin village in China’s south-western Yunan Province, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Nearly 15 miners were also injured and rescuers were searching today for 17 missing miners, Xinhua said, citing Xu Jianan, Deputy Director of Yunnan Provincial Administration on Coal Mine Safety.
15 February 2005
Coal mine, Sunjiawan, Liaoning Province, China
A gas explosion in a coal mine in China’s northeast killed at least 203 miners, the government said, in the deadliest disaster reported since communist rule began in 1949. The explosion at the Sunjiawan mine in Liaoning Province also injured 22 others and trapped 13 underground, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The cause of the blast, which occurred 794 ft underground, was under investigation, it said. The explosion at Sunjiawan happened about ten minutes after an earthquake shook the mine, Xinhua said, citing Zhang Yunfu, Vice General Manager of the Fuxin mine group.
26 January 2005
Los Angeles area, California, United States
Eleven people were killed and about 200 were injured in an accident involving two passenger trains near downtown Los Angeles early this morning, emergency authorities said. One of the Metrolink commuter trains struck a passenger vehicle before sideswiping the second train and plowing into a parked freight train, officials said. One of the train cars caught fire in the accident and another rolled to its side in the crash, which occurred just after 6 a.m. local time. Emergency teams were picking through the debris of the crash and could be seen carrying some victims away on stretchers.
27 January 2005. A suicidal man who allegedly parked his SUV in the path of a commuter train and triggered a horrific wreck that killed 11 people was charged with murder and could face the death penalty, authorities said today. The criminal case moved forward against Juan Manuel Alvarez as police and forensics experts worked to gather evidence from the crime scene and coroner’s investigators searched the tangled wreckage for any remaining body parts. Prosecutors have not decided if they will seek the death penalty against Alvarez, who had been ordered by a court to stay away from his family after his wife alleged he abused drugs and threatened them. Authorities say he also had slashed his wrists and stabbed himself at some point during his aborted suicide attempt. He remained hospitalised today, and a court hearing was set for tomorrow. District Attorney Steve Cooley said thursday prosecutors were evaluating Alvarez’s mental state in deciding a possible punishment, but he asserted that the man’s mental issues were no defence. Authorities say Alvarez drove his green Jeep Cherokee into the path of a Metrolink commuter train early yesterday. He then changed his mind and got out of the vehicle just before the Jeep was struck by a train heading to Los Angeles, police said. That train derailed, crashed into a parked freight train and struck another train heading in the opposite direction. The second train also derailed. Alvarez was charged with ten counts of murder, but another count was to be added following the discovery of an 11th body in the mangled trains. Everyone from the crash was accounted for today. More than 180 people were injured, including seven who were in critical condition today. Meanwhile, police began collecting forensic evidence from the scene for the prosecution, using laser measuring devices to create a digital map of the wreckage. Two large cargo containers were brought into store evidence. Police Sgt Tom Lorenz said evidence as large as a rail car may be preserved for the investigation and trial.
31 January 2005. Los Angeles commuter train service have resumed this morning following last week’s deadly train crash in Glendale. Metrolink officials say a full service from Union Station in central Los Angeles to Ventura County and the Antelope Valley was restored starting at 4:00 hours. The service was suspended to allow the repair of damaged track after Wednesday’s (26 January) crash that killed eleven and injured about 180 passengers. Both lines operated on a partial schedule Thursday (27 January) and Friday (28 January), when buses were used to detour passengers around a section of the damaged tracks.
4 February 2005
Kanhan, Maharashtra State, India
A train smashed into a trailer carrying wedding guests at a crossing in western India yesterday, killing at least 52 people and injuring ten others, a railway official and witnesses said. According to an official, the accident occurred because the tractor driver failed to see the oncoming train before crossing the tracks. The dead included 30 women and ten children. The accident occurred near Kanhan, a small town in Maharashtra state, 800 km north-east of Bombay, when a train bound for the central Indian city of Nagpur collided with a trailer being pulled by a tractor that was crossing the tracks, said a spokesman for South-Eastern Central Railway. He said that of the 30 people in the trailer, 19 died. At least three vehicles full of wedding guests had climbed the slope that led to the crossing, when the last vehicle, the tractor pulling the trailer, drove up. The tractor crossed but the train rammed into the trailer. Bodies were tossed up and then crushed under the wheels. Rail crossings in India require an attendant to manually raise and lower the guard gates. However, the crossing where the accident occurred was not manned. He said no one was injured on the train, which did not derail despite the impact. Traffic was shut down on the track and passengers were moved to another train, officials said. The passenger train was travelling at about 70 km/h and the driver applied the emergency brakes, said the railways spokesman. The accident occurred because the tractor driver failed to see the oncoming train.
7 February 2005
Paris Airport, France
An administrative enquiry into the fatal roof collapse at Charles de Gaulle airport last year will blame flaws in the design and construction of the newly-completed terminal, officials at the Paris airport authority ADP said today. Confirming a report in Le Parisien newspaper, the officials said that several senior figures at the airport authority – including possibly its President Pierre Graff – were likely to be placed under judicial investigation after the enquiry team presents its findings on Thursday (10 February). An official close to the committee of enquiry – which is headed by leading French engineer Jean Berthier – confirmed to AFP that “everyone is somewhat implicated” including ADP, the construction company Vinci and the Consultancy Bureau Veritas which oversaw the project. Four people died last May when a 30 m section of the roof of the ultra-modern 2E terminal caved in, less than a year after it opened. The enquiry report has detected “several serious errors in the conception of the building,” which was designed by the internationally renowned architect Paul Andreu, Le Parisien said. Technical examination of the debris has revealed that the concrete used in the terminal was not strong enough to support the metal struts which held in place the exterior glass casing, it said. The section which collapsed was further weakened because the side of the building was opened up at that point to let in a connecting walkway to the rest of the airport, Le Parisien said. The report will be used as evidence by the investigating magistrate Roger le Loire whose task is to determine if individuals or companies can face charges for “involuntary homicide”. Confirmation of a serious design or construction flaw could mean that the entire 750-million-euro building – which has been shut since the accident – will have to be demolished.
4 February 2005
An Afghan passenger aircraft, with 104 people on board, has gone missing after being turned away from Kabul airport, Afghanistan, due to a snow storm, an airline official said today. The Boeing 737 belonging to a private airline, Kam Air, was on a flight from the western city of Herat to Kabul yesterday, said Atilla Kamgar, the airline’s financial controller. He said the aircraft contacted Peshawar airport, in Pakistan, after being turned away from Kabul, due to heavy snow that had closed the airport. “It was given clearance to land, but it never arrived,” Kamgar said. “Lahore airport earlier reported to us that it had landed in Peshawar, then when we contacted Peshawar they told us it had not landed. A US military spokesman said the aircraft had been reported missing to them. It had not landed at any US-led coalition airfields in Afghanistan.
4 February 2005. The wreckage of an Afghan passenger plane that went missing with 104 people on board was found near the capital, Kabul, today, a western security source said. The Kam Air Boeing 737 was found to the north-east of the capital, but the security source did not say if there were any survivors. The airliner went missing yesterday after being turned away from Kabul airport because of heavy snow.
5 February 2005. The wreckage of a missing Afghan jet has been found in mountains east of the capital Kabul with all 104 people on board feared dead, an interior ministry spokesman said. “So far we don’t think there are any survivors,” interior ministry spokesman Lutfullah Mashal said. “The plane is completely destroyed.” But Transportation Minister Anayatullah Qasimi spoke of mounting a search and rescue operation. “We heard for the first time that the plane has crashed so first of all our top priority is to make sure that if there are survivors we have to get to them,” Mr Qasimi said. “It is a rescue and search operation. First we will take the passengers who are alive or injured, and then the bodies will also be carried as well.” The wreckage was found in mountains 20 km east of Kabul at around 930, UTC, during a joint search operation by Afghan police, army and NATO-led peacekeeping troops from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), he said. The area has been blanketed by heavy snow this week and Afghan officials said bad weather was preventing search teams from reaching the wreckage on the ground to check for any possible survivors. The private Kam Air Boeing 737 went missing on Thursday (3 February) during a domestic flight from the western city of Herat to Kabul. ISAF helicopters found the wreckage and the peacekeeping force then deployed a specialised mountain rescue team to the site. “We have found it at an altitude of 3,000 metres,” ISAF spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Poulain said. There were 23 confirmed foreign nationals aboard the aircraft, including six Americans, one Iranian, three Italians, nine Turks and four Russian crew members, official sources from the countries or companies said. “Apache helicopters from ISAF spotted the wreckage and a team of mountain rescue specialists is on site,” Lt. Col. Poulain added. He would not comment on the fate of the passengers, saying it was too early to know. A Canadian ISAF soldier questioned near the crash site said a camp had been established at the base of the mountain, where the wreckage was visible. The mountain was so steep the operation could “take days”, said the soldier. Defence ministry spokesman General Zahir Azimi, who flew over the crash site, said bad weather was preventing the search for crash victims and the operation would resume tomorrow. Kam Air owner Zmarai Kamgar confirmed the wreckage of the aircraft had been found but was also unable to elaborate on the fate of the passengers. ISAF had mobilised two platoons of troops to hunt for the aircraft in the region south-east of the capital. Defence ministry spokesman Azimi earlier told AFP some 500 Afghan National Army soldiers were engaged in the search.
6 February 2005. The commander of Afghanistan’s former ruling Taliban group says his guerrillas did not shoot down a passenger aircraft which crashed two days ago. NATO helicopters have found the wreckage of the Afghan airliner on a mountain top near the Afghanistan capital Kabul. One hundred and four people were on board. Authorities say they are still searching for any survivors. Earlier authorities had said all 96 passengers and eight crew had been killed. Taliban leader Mullah Dadullah says his guerrillas were not responsible for the aircraft coming down.
7 February 2005. Local and foreign police and troops are struggling to reach the spot where an Afghan aircraft carrying 104 people crashed in rugged snow clad mountains east of Kabul, with officials conceding there was little or no chance of finding any survivors. Bad weather has hampered helicopter flights to the area and ground troops have been told to try to reach the site, although deep snow and the rugged terrain are hindering efforts three days after the crash. ISAF was planning to drop troops to the crash site but weather conditions had not permitted them to conduct the operation by early yesterday afternoon. Officials say around 1,000 Afghan police and soldiers are involved in the operation. However, chances of reaching close to the snow-capped peaks appear slim as residents say weather in the area improves briefly in the afternoon but it is dark after 17:30. “There is about one to two metres of snow and we estimate that another 50 centimetres of snow fell overnight. The landing zone is very difficult due to steepness, snow and the general terrain,” ISAF spokeswoman Major Karen Tissot van Patot said. The private Kam Air Boeing 737-200 went missing on Thursday (3 February) during a domestic flight from the western city of Herat to Kabul.
7 February 2005. Nato-led peacekeeping troops have reached the wreckage of an Afghan airliner that crashed on Thursday (3 February) near Kabul after running into snowstorms. All 104 passengers on board the Kam Air Boeing 737 are feared dead. If confirmed, this will be Afghanistan’s worst air disaster. The wreckage was spotted by helicopter crews of the peacekeeping force high-up in a snow-covered mountain on Saturday (5 February), but bad weather prevented rescue teams from approaching the remote area. “The weather is much better today, which allowed them to get to the top,” a spokesman for the Nato-led peacekeeping force, Isaf, Major Joseph Bowman, told reporters. “They’re looking for survivors and trying to make the site secure.”
9 February 2005. The owners of a Boeing 737 (EX-037) that crashed near Kabul last week with the loss of 104 lives believe bad weather caused the accident, not any fault with the airliner, an official of the firm said today. “The plane crashed in Kabul due to bad weather and not safety issues, it was unfortunate but not our fault,” said a manager at Phoenix Aviation, a firm based at Sharjar in the United Arab Emirates that leased the doomed aircraft to Afghan firm Kam Air. The comments came after a U.N. agency in Afghanistan said it had suspended a lease contract it had with Phoenix Aviation for another Boeing 737 as a safety precaution after last Thursday’s (3 February) crash south-east of the Afghan capital. “It’s more of a precaution than anything else as the Kam Air flight was a plane leased from Phoenix Aviation,” said Charles Vincent, Kabul representative of the World Food Programme, which manages the U.N. Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS). He stressed the move was not prompted by a specific security concern:It’s normal procedure after a plane crash to review the safety of the plane and the company that supplies it. It’s for the clients peace of mind – we want to be able to assure them they are flying on a safe aircraft with a safe company.
The Phoenix Aviation manager, who did not want to be identified, said the WFP had not listed the Kabul crash as a reason for suspending the contract. He said Phoenix had expected it to be scrapped because of several months of “management problems” with the United Nations. Vincent said UNHAS had leased a Boeing 737 from Phoenix for its regular flight between Kabul and Dubai. He said the Dubai route was now being flown by an aircraft from a different firm. The Kam Air.
Boeing, which the airline said was 23 years old, crashed on a mountain after a flight from the western city of Herat. The government says all 104 people on board had died. Among them were more than 20 foreigners, including nine Turks, six Americans, three Italians and an Iranian. At least four Russians and a Canadian were among the crew. The pilot was Russian and the first officer Canadian. Troops from Afghanistan’s NATO-led peacekeeping force found human remains at the site on Monday (7 February) but bad weather has since prevented efforts to recover bodies and cockpit voice recorders that could help to explain the crash. The cause of the crash, Afghanistan’s worst-ever civil aviation disaster, is being investigated by the government and representatives of countries with nationals aboard the plane. The US National Transportation Safety Board has sent a five-person team to Afghanistan to assist the investigation and the government said officials from Boeing may also take part.
13 February 2005. NATO and Afghan troops today began trying to recover the bodies of 104 people killed in the crash of an Afghan airliner, a NATO commander said, ten days after it smashed into a mountain in a snowstorm. The first clear weather in nearly a week allowed helicopters to ferry a NATO de-mining team and Afghan soldiers to the snow-covered peak 20 mile east of the capital, Kabul, said Lt. Gen. Ethem Erdagi, the NATO force’s Turkish commander. Afghan officials say the cause of the crash remains a mystery and have called in US experts to help investigate. The private airline, Kam Air, says the pilot turned away from Kabul to seek an easier landing in Pakistan; the plane’s flight recorder has yet to be located. Officials say the wreckage lies scattered in deep snow at an altitude of about 10,000 ft and that it could take weeks to collect the bodies. The plane hit near an old military lookout that is believed to be mined.
13 February 2005. NATO and Afghan troops today retrieved the flight recorder from a crashed Afghan airliner which crashed into a mountain in a snowstorm, killing all 104 people on board, an Afghan official said. Maj. Gen. Mohammed Moeen Faqir, an Afghan army commander, said the teams had not yet been able to recover any of the bodies. However, Defence Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammed Zaher Azimi said the flight recorder had been found. “It is in the hands of the investigating commission,” Azimi said.
15 February 2005. The first bodies from an Afghan aircraft (EX-037) which crashed and killed 104 people have been recovered from a frozen mountainside where they have been lying for the past 11 days. Bad weather had until now prevented troops from removing any corpses from the site east of the capital Kabul, where the Kam Air Boeing 737 came down on 3 February. “As part of the ongoing safety operation, the Afghan National Army found several bodies and they have been carried out to Kabul airport,” the Defence Ministry said in a statement. “After the identities of the bodies have been established they will be handed over to their families.” A source close to the investigation said that only two bodies had been found in a relatively intact state. US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad says investigators have found the flight data recorder and it has been sent to the US for analysis. “The data recorder has been recovered and it has been turned over to the US. It will be taken to the US for the reading of the data. The voice recorder has not been recovered yet,” he said.