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Swiss fireworks factory explosion kills one

06 September 2013

An explosion at Switzerland’s largest fireworks factory killed at least one person in the Bernese Oberland early on September 3, Bern cantonal police have confirmed. An employee died and another is missing following an explosion at Hamberger Swiss Pyrotechnics, located in the village of Oberried on Lake Brienz, police said.

Police said the explosion occurred as the two workers were in the process of destroying "waste material" at a place designated for the destruction of explosive substances.

The blast seriously damaged the  facade of a nearby house, which was unoccupied at the time, police said.  

Local residents reported a “big bang” at around 7.40am followed by a plume of smoke from the company’s lakeside factory, various Swiss media reported.

According to local sources, previous blasts at the same factory killed 10 people in 1959 and 12 people in 1941.

The company subsequently clamped down on safety measures, introducing a no-smoking policy on the site, newspaper Blick reported.

Hamberger Swiss Pyrotechnics employs 30 people and has produced fireworks since 1863, the company says on its website. In addition to fireworks, the company makes explosives to control avalanches and pyrotechnics for military use.

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