Thu, May 11, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Two killed in ammunition depot blast

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Combined Logistics Command ammunition depot in Sijhih, Taipei County, is seen after munitions exploded yesterday. The depot was torn apart and surrounding trees were scorched in the resulting blaze.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

An ammunition depot in Taipei County exploded yesterday, killing two soldiers and injuring five others.

Ministry Of National Defense spokesman Rear Admiral Wu Chi-fang (吳季方) said the explosion occurred at 1:10pm at the Combined Logistics Command's B29 arsenal in Sijhih (汐止), Taipei County.

The fire spread to offices and dormitories in the depot and two soldiers, surnamed Chiang and Fang, died in the blaze.

Wu said two other soldiers suffered serious burns and three more had sustained minor injuries.

The fire was put out at 1:40pm, Wu said.

Wu said initial investigation suggested that high temperatures had caused old gun powder in the depot to explode.

The incident was not caused by human error, he added.

Upon learning of the blast, Minister of National Defense Lee Jye (李傑) rushed to the scene.

He asked the military to carefully manage the security of munitions depots and said an investigation into the incident had been launched.

He said he felt regret for the dead and injured, adding that the victims and their families would receive compensation.

Nearby residents were shocked by the blast, and smoke from the fire filled the air.

The military has a number of ammunition depots near highly populated areas, which has alarmed local residents.

Lawmakers have asked the military to move the arsenals, but military officials say they are currently unable to do so.

Taipei City Councilwoman Lee Yen-hsiu (李彥秀) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday asked the military to remove 35 munitions depots in Nangang, Taipei City.

She said the arsenals were endangering the residents of Neihu and Nangang and the government should consider buying the land from the military.

Last year, three soldiers were killed when two ammunition depots exploded in Kaohsiung County and on Matsu.

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