Military munitions storage explosion causes three deaths [Archives:2006/979/Front Page]

August 7 2006

ADEN, September 6 – Two women and an old man were killed as a missile fell on a public transport bus they were taking in Crater. The missile was one of many sharpnels which were flying around because of an explosion of the Jabil Hadid munitions storage facility at the center of Aden yesterday evening. The explosion sparked an emergency situation, according to local security sources in Aden.

The mountain facility in Khour Maksar stores military weapons included rockets, guns and bombs and they were exploding and launching up to five kilometers in all directions for nearly five hours.

The initial explosion happened around five o'clock and it was under control shortly after nine o'clock.

“There was a lot of smoke with visible flames and the mountain was literally on fire,” said Adel Mahuob, a local resident near the mountain at the time of the explosion. “People were taking cover in the basements of their homes.”

Additional to the three dead citizens, damages included the partial destruction of a nearby mosque and building in Al-Mua'ala west of the explosion and also a house north of Jabal Hadid in Khour Maksar. Until last night, the situation of the soldiers based inside the military munitions storage location in Jabal Hadid was still not known.

A military division with over 100 soldiers were within the facility, but rescue operations had difficulty reaching the center of the explosion because the weapons continued to explode, according to security sources.

Into the evening shrapnel was still flying in the air around the facility and to protect nearby residents a curfew was imposed and all nearby roads were blocked.

Jabil Hadid is in the center of Aden and many people were blocked from reaching their homes – late into the day people were camping in local restaurants and public places until the roads re-opened.

It's unknown how the initial explosion occurred, but a security officer in the Aden local authority said it could be the friction between weapons and the heat from the sun, or possibly an electricity short cut.

A committee headed by Ahmed Al-Kuhlani, Governor of Aden, and including security instruments, a explosion expert and a forensic doctor is investigating the exact cause of the explosion and the causalities.

Jabal Hadid, meaning iron mountain, has stored weapons since the Second World War, but it has been under different control.

A similar explosion took place in 1994 following the civil war when the South forces gave up control of Jabil Hadid for the unified Yemen. That explosion was caused by heat in the facility and bad storage conditions.

According to military sources there is currently less ammunition in the Jabil Hadid then during the 1994 explosion when five soldiers suffered second-degree burns.