Published: March 16, 2008
TIRANA, Albania (Reuters) — An Albanian Army base stocking obsolete munitions for destruction blew up in a chain of blasts on Saturday, killing at least five people and injuring more than 240. Hospitals took in scores of injured suffering burns, concussion, broken limbs, or cuts from flying glass and shrapnel.
Many were hurt as shockwaves from the blast hit nearby villages and cars passing by on the adjacent highway. More than half of the wounded were being treated in hospitals.
The blasts began as workers moved stocks of bombs, bullets and shells stored at the base, a collection point for the arsenal amassed by Albania’s Stalinist-era dictatorship.
Dismantling its obsolete arsenal and reforming the army has been a condition for Albania to join NATO. Albanian officials hope the country will be invited to join next month.
Prime Minister Sali Berisha said, “The stock of 100,000 tons of 40- to 50-year-old ammunition is one of our most serious problems.”