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Two killed in blast at Bulgarian arms plant

26 April 2016

Two workers were killed in a massive gunpowder explosion on April 25 at the Arsenal  AD armaments and munitions factory in the central Bulgarian town of Kazanlak, according to the company’s press office. Both men, a mechanic and an engineer who were long-term employees of the company, died of burn injuries. 

The company said they were adjusting an arms-making machine and triggered a gunpowder fire, which then ripped through the depot, the head of the Arsenal factory, Nikolay Ibushev, told public BNR radio. The other four workers in the plant at the time were evacuated and the fire has been contained, Ibushev added.

Poor safety has been a major problem in Bulgaria's arms industry, with explosions causing casualties almost every year. Recent fatal weapons and ammunition plant blasts have happened in June 2015, December 2014 and October 2014.

Arsenal AD is Bulgaria's oldest and biggest arms and munitions plant, which was the only licensed producer of Russian Kalashnikov assault rifles outside the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The company was fully privatised in 2011 and is still making a wide range of assault rifles, heavy and light machine guns and ammunition.

An interdepartmental commission to investigate reasons the for the incident has been established and the local prosecutor’s office is also carrying out an independent investigation.

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