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Tragedies sparked by fertiliser explosions around the world

In 1947, another explosion in Texas claimed 581 lives and is considered the deadliest industrial accident in US history.

Firefighters conduct search and rescue of an apartment destroyed by an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas.
Firefighters conduct search and rescue of an apartment destroyed by an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas.
Image: LM Otero/A

A PROVISIONAL TOLL in Texas has indicated that the explosion at a fertiliser factory has left between 5 and 35 people dead.

This is not the first explosion linked to fertiliser with several other incidents across the world claiming lives over the last number of years.

Here are some of the most high profile:

  • April 16, 1947 – TEXAS CITY, United States: In what is considered the deadliest industrial accident in US history, a fire on board a French-registered cargo vessel detonates approximately 2,300 tons of ammonium nitrate and the resulting chain reaction of fires and explosions kills at least 581 people.
  • July 28, 1947 – BREST, France: The Norwegian cargo ship Ocean Liberty explodes in the French port of Brest. The cargo consists of around 3,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate. The explosion kills around 30 people, injures thousands and seriously damages buildings in the town.
  • January 8, 1998 – XINPING, China: 24 workers are killed and around 60 seriously injured in an explosion in a chemical fertiliser factory in the northern province of Shaanxi.
  • September 20, 1999 – CHIANG MAI, Thailand: 35 people are killed in northern Thailand when a devastating blast in a fruit factory erupts when potassium chlorate used as a fertiliser ignites
  • September 21, 2001 – TOULOUSE, France: A stock of ammonium nitrate at an AZF petrochemical plant explodes killing 31 people, injuring 2,500 others and devastating thousands of homes. In 2012, the owner of the factory, Grande Paroisse, is condemned by the French justice system for “involuntary homicide”.
  • April 24, 2004 – RYONGCHON, North Korea: 161 are killed and 1,300 injured in the railway station in the western town of Ryongchon when a train transporting oil and wagons carrying ammonium nitrate collide, and a series of deadly explosions ensues.
  • May 28, 2004 – MIHAILESTI, Romania: A total of 18 people are killed and 13 others injured when a nitrogen-based fertiliser truck explodes in eastern Romania.

- © AFP 2013.

Related: Police say between 5 and 15 killed in Texas fertiliser explosion>
Photos: ‘Devastation’ at scene of fertiliser plant explosion in Texas>

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