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Explosion at South Korean defence lab kills one, injures five

15 November 2019

An explosion at a state-run weapons research facility killed one person and injured five on November 13 in South Korea. The blast occurred at the Agency for Defence Development’s lab in the city of Daejon, around 160 kilometres south of Seoul.

Representative image: Shutterstock
Representative image: Shutterstock

Local fire authorities said one person, a researcher at the lab, was confirmed dead at the scene while the injured were sent to hospital. Around 120 firefighters were dispatched to handle the incident.

According to The Korea Herald, the explosion happened in the rocket fuel lab on the first floor of the building. As well as the injuries following the blast, two firefighters suffered smoke inhalation.

The cause of the blast has yet to be determined, but the Agency for Defence Development (ADD) said researchers had been working with nitromethane, a hydrocarbon-based fuel, transforming solid fuel into a gel and testing its discharge into missile engines. ADD added that the researchers were not wearing protective gear during their experiments.

The Daejon Metropolitan Police Agency announced that it had set up an on-site team along with the fire authorities and the National Forensic Service to begin an investigation into the incident. ADD has also organised an emergency task force to cooperate with authorities. 

This was the third accident at the lab in the last year and a half. In April 2018, a fire was caused during an explosive weapons test causing an explosion and damaging the facility. In June 2018, a fire was caused by a faulty fridge in a lab.

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