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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Three people injured in explosion at military arsenal plant in Kaohsiung

ROC Central News Agency

12/09/2020 06:26 PM

Kaohsiung, Dec. 9 (CNA) Three people sustained extensive burns in an explosion Wednesday at a military weapons factory in Kaohsiung, which appeared to have been caused by the ignition of raw materials, the city government said.

When the explosion occurred during a process of mixing aluminum powder, the three people were engulfed in flames, and a 45-year-old soldier suffered third-degree burns over 85 percent of his body, the city government said.

Another soldier, in his 20s, sustained second-degree burns over 60 percent of his body, while a maintenance staff member sustained first-degree burns over 60 percent of his body, according to the Kaohsiung City Labor Affairs Bureau.

The three people, who were working at the military's national 205th Arsenal plant in Dashu Township, were rushed to three different hospitals in Kaohsiung and were all conscious at the time, the city's labor bureau said.

Meanwhile, the plant, which is operated by the Ministry of National Defense's (MND's) Armament Bureau, has been closed temporarily, pending investigations and inspections, the labor bureau said.

Citing its initial investigation, the labor bureau said the factory did not have the required safety equipment or procedures in place to prevent injuries from flammable or explosive materials, as prescribed in the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

The case will be referred to the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office for further investigation, the labor bureau said, adding that it will provide assistance to the families of the injured workers in the meantime.

According to the defense ministry, the Armament Bureau has formed a special task force to investigate the cause of the explosion and help the injured obtain the best possible medical treatment. The factory, part of the MND's Material Production Center, works on a contractual basis to fulfill orders for National Chung-Shan Institute of Science & Technology, which is responsible for maintenance of the country's Tien-Kung II missile system.

Factory manager Lin Cheng-hsiung (林正雄) said the blast occurred while the workers were opening a 53-gallon barrel of raw materials supplied by the institute.

Standard operating procedure was followed during the process, Lin said, adding that the factory will review the sequence of events to find out what happened.

In the interest of safety, all operations have been suspended at the factory until the formal investigations are completed, he said.

(By Wang Shwu-feng, Hou Wen-ting and Evelyn Kao)

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