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Home >> World
UPDATED: 09:22, August 25, 2006
Blasts rock U.S. bomb recycling plant, prompt evacuations
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A series of explosions rocked a Louisiana bomb recycling plant Thursday, prompting widespread evacuations, CNN Television reported.

The blasts and fire at the Explo Systems plant in the Camp Minden industrial park forced the evacuation of more than 1,000 people from nearby schools and a jail, but there were no serious injuries reported.

Fears that two truckloads of bombs stored at one end of the burning building would detonate led officials to evacuate a broad area.

Among those evacuated were two schools, a "boot camp" for teens and a correctional facility.

Nearby highways also were closed for a time.

Explo Systems, which opened its plant on the former site of the Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant in January, has a military contract to disassemble bombs and recycle bomb components.

The incident took place about 8:30 a.m. when a fire at the Explo Systems plant triggered a major explosion involving two military bombs.

It was followed by more than 10 explosions inside the plant as the fire continued to burn and thick smoke billowed from the plant.

By mid-afternoon, after several hours of heavy smoke, the fire apparently was dying down as rain fell.

Although authorities planned to let the fire burn itself out, emergency workers would not venture into the plant site until at least eight hours after explosions stopped.

All of the employees inside the plant escaped after the fire broke out and before the first explosion.

Emergency crews, including firefighters, were being kept about some 1.6 km away.

The explosion was the second in recent weeks at Camp Minden, the former Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant that produced large- caliber ammunition for the military until it closed in 1994.

Louisiana took the site over from the federal government last year and it is now occupied by several businesses.

On Aug. 14, a fire and explosions rocked the Valentec Systems plant at Camp Minden, destroying about half the facility's buildings. No injuries were reported and the fire burnt itself out.

Source: Xinhua

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