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|Date||15 March 2008|
|Time||noon (12:05 GMT)|
At approximately noon local time on Saturday 15 March 2008, at an ex-military ammunition depot in the village of Gërdec in the Vorë Municipality, Albania (14 kilometers from Tirana, the nation's capital), U.S and Albanian munitions experts were preparing to destroy stockpiles of obsolete ammunition. The methodical destruction of the old ammo was supposed to occur with a series of small, controlled explosions, but a chain of events led to the entire stockpile going up at once. The main explosion, involving more than 400 tons of propellant in containers, destroyed hundreds of houses within a few kilometers from the depot and broke windows in cars on the Tirana-Durrës highway. A large fire caused a series of smaller but powerful explosions that continued until 2 a.m. on Sunday. The explosions could be heard as far away as the Macedonian capital of Skopje, 170 km (110 mi) away.
Gërdec is a village in Albania, 11 kilometers north-west of the capital Tirana. It is part of the municipality Vorë. It was the site of the explosions at a military base on 15 March 2008, causing the deaths of more than 27 people and injuring over 100. The event was featured on the Discovery Channel series Destroyed In Seconds.
Vorë is a municipality in Tirana County, central Albania. It was formed at the 2015 local government reform by the merger of the former municipalities Bërxullë, Prezë and Vorë, that became municipal units. The seat of the municipality is the town Vorë. The total population is 25,511, in a total area of 82.72 km2. The population of the former municipality at the 2011 census was 10,901.
Albania, officially the Republic of Albania, is a country in Southeast Europe on the Adriatic and Ionian Sea within the Mediterranean Sea. It shares land borders with Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, North Macedonia to the east, Greece to the south and a maritime border with Italy to the west.
Thousands of artillery shells, most of them un-exploded, littered the area. The blast shattered all the windows of the terminal building at the country's only international airport, and all flights were suspended for some 40 minutes. Some 4,000 inhabitants of the zone were evacuated and offered shelter in state-owned resorts. The Government declared the zone a disaster area. According to subsequent investigations, a privately managed ammo dismantling process was ongoing in the area.[ citation needed ]
The Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza, often referred to as the Rinas International Airport, is the main international airport of the Republic of Albania. It serves the city of Tirana, its metropolitan area, and surrounding region in the county of Tirana.
A disaster area is a region or a locale, heavily damaged by either natural, technological or social hazards. Disaster areas affect the population living in the community by dramatic increase in expense, loss of energy, food and services; and finally increase the risk of disease for citizens. An area that has been struck with a natural, technological or sociological hazard that opens the affected area for national or international aid.
Possible causes include: human error during the work such as lighting a cigarette or damaging a fuse, improper storage of the ammunition, employment of untrained workers without the proper technical knowledge, violation of the technical security rules in the area where the destruction of ammunition took place, and sabotage.
Human error has been cited as a primary cause contributing factor in disasters and accidents in industries as diverse as nuclear power, aviation, space exploration, and medicine. Prevention of human error is generally seen as a major contributor to reliability and safety of (complex) systems. Human error is one of the many contributing causes of risk events.
In an explosive, pyrotechnic device, or military munition, a fuse is the part of the device that initiates function. In common usage, the word fuse is used indiscriminately. However, when being specific, the term fuse describes a simple pyrotechnic initiating device, like the cord on a firecracker whereas the term fuze is sometimes used when referring to a more sophisticated ignition device incorporating mechanical and/or electronic components, such as a proximity fuze for an M107 artillery shell, magnetic or acoustic fuze on a sea mine, spring-loaded grenade fuze, pencil detonator, or anti-handling device.
Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening a polity, effort, or organization through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction. One who engages in sabotage is a saboteur. Saboteurs typically try to conceal their identities because of the consequences of their actions.
Although existing technologies were employed and adapted for the operations at Gerdec, the techniques of ammunition disposal being used at the time were, and still are (in 2010), new technologies in this field. An error made by engineers who designed the machinery the demilitarisation company and associates employed on the project used. A fundamental design assumption made early in the design process rendered the basic machinery potentially lethal. Researchers and designers of the ammunition disposal kilns assumed the combustible compounds within the ammunition would burn away at 350 degrees Celsius. Documents available from the US military state, and thermochemical and thermodynamic calculations will verify the combustible compounds within the ammunition being disposed of at Gerdec burn to give out a heat amounting to 4500 degrees Celsius. Such an energy would, without further sufficient and adequate designed machine components, lead to vaporization and explosion of the machines used to dispose of the ammunition dumps.[ citation needed ]
Thermochemistry is the study of the heat energy associated with chemical reactions and/or physical transformations. A reaction may release or absorb energy, and a phase change may do the same, such as in melting and boiling. Thermochemistry focuses on these energy changes, particularly on the system's energy exchange with its surroundings. Thermochemistry is useful in predicting reactant and product quantities throughout the course of a given reaction. In combination with entropy determinations, it is also used to predict whether a reaction is spontaneous or non-spontaneous, favorable or unfavorable.
Thermodynamics is the branch of physics that has to do with heat and temperature and their relation to energy and work. The behavior of these quantities is governed by the four laws of thermodynamics, irrespective of the composition or specific properties of the material or system in question. The laws of thermodynamics are explained in terms of microscopic constituents by statistical mechanics. Thermodynamics applies to a wide variety of topics in science and engineering, especially physical chemistry, chemical engineering and mechanical engineering.
Some proponents of conspiracy theories have argued that the explosions might have been an act of sabotage ahead of Albania’s entry to NATO few weeks later. However, these claims have not been validated.
The repacking/dismantling of ammunition at the dump was being carried out by an Albanian company that had been subcontracted by Southern Ammunition Company Inc. (SAC) of Loris, South Carolina, a U.S. company. SAC won the contract to destroy ammunition in Albania through industrial dismantling.[ citation needed ]
Loris is a city in Horry County, South Carolina, United States. The population was 2,396 at the 2010 census, up from 2,079 in 2000.
SAC was contracted in 2006 by the Albanian Ministry of Defence for the deactivation of 100 million 7.62 mm bullets, 20 million 12.7 mm bullets, and 20 million 14.5 mm bullets. A second contract involved ammunition from 40 mm up to 152 mm.
After signing the contract with the MoD, SAC subcontracted the work to Alb-Demil, an Albanian subcontractor.
Officially, Albanian authorities confirmed 26 deaths in the explosions. Officials report the number of injured people at over 300.According to figures published by the Prime Minister's Office, 2,306 buildings were damaged or destroyed in the explosions. Of these, 318 houses were destroyed completely, 200 buildings were seriously damaged, and 188 buildings were less seriously damaged.
There were 26 victims: Qemal Deliu, Kore Deliu, Liljana Deliu, Jetmir Deliu, Flavio Deliu (3 years old), Hysen Cani, Muhamet Hoxha, Besim Çanga, Roland Alla, Reshit Kruja, Mehmet Hazizi, Bukurie Cani, Arben Hasa, Zilie Kaca, Endri Dvorani, Shefki Cani, Zelije Leti, Ilirjan Malci, Shqipe Hasa, Azem Hamolli, Nafije Laçi, Zylfije Ahmeti, Erison Durda (10 years old), Rajmonda Durda, Jetmir Ballazhi, and Resmie Kranja.
On 17 March 2008, Mr. Fatmir Mediu, Minister of Defence of the Republic of Albania, resigned from his governmental position.
As part of an investigation by the Albanian General Prosecution Office, authorities issued arrest orders for Mihail Delijorgji (president of the Alb-Demil Company), Ylli Pinari (director of MEICO, a state-controlled enterprise managed by the Ministry of Defence and authorized under Albanian laws to deal with the export and import of military goods), and Dritan Minxholi (an executive director with Alb-Demil).
A special group of prosecutors and investigators from Tirana, along with experts from the Albanian Ministry of Interior, the Tirana State Police, EOD specialists, military engineers and military police were said to be studying the facts of the case and collecting witnesses declarations.[ citation needed ]
The investigation group was expected to publish the names of the officials involved in the tragedy by the beginning of April 2008. The US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) accepted a request from the Albanian General Prosecutors Office (GPO) to assist the investigation.
On September 12, 2008, Kosta Trebicka, a whistleblower of the case who had directly accused the son of then Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha of involvement in this case, died under mysterious circumstances on a rural road in southern Albania.
The Albanian Armed Forces are the military of Albania and were formed after the declaration of independence in 1912. Today, it consists of: the General Staff, the Albanian Land Force, Albanian Air Force and the Albanian Naval Force.
A cartridge is a type of pre-assembled firearm ammunition packaging a projectile, a propellant substance and an ignition device (primer) within a metallic, paper or plastic case that is precisely made to fit within the barrel chamber of a breechloading gun, for the practical purpose of convenient transportation and handling during shooting. Although in popular usage the term "bullet" is often used to refer to a complete cartridge, it is correctly used only to refer to the projectile.
The .38 Smith & Wesson Special is a rimmed, centerfire cartridge designed by Smith & Wesson. It is most commonly used in revolvers, although some semi-automatic pistols and carbines also use this round. The .38 Special was the standard service cartridge of most police departments in the United States from the 1920s to the 1990s, and was also a common sidearm cartridge used by soldiers in World War I. In other parts of the world, it is known by its metric designation of 9×29.5mmR or 9.1×29mmR.
Terminal ballistics, a sub-field of ballistics, is the study of the behavior and effects of a projectile when it hits and transfers its energy to a target. Bullet design and the velocity of impact largely determine the effectiveness of its impact.
The .40 S&W is a rimless pistol cartridge developed jointly by major American firearms manufacturers Smith & Wesson and Winchester. The .40 S&W was developed from the ground up as a law enforcement cartridge designed to duplicate performance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) reduced-velocity 10mm Auto cartridge which could be retrofitted into medium-frame semi-automatic handguns. It uses 0.40-inch (10 mm) diameter bullets ranging in weight from 105 to 200 grains.
The .45 ACP , or .45 Auto (11.43×23mm) is a handgun cartridge designed by John Browning in 1905, for use in his prototype Colt semi-automatic pistol. After successful military trials, it was adopted as the standard chambering for Colt's M1911 pistol, being named .45 ACP.
Hawthorne Army Depot (HWAD) is a U.S. Army ammunition storage depot located near the town of Hawthorne in western Nevada in the United States. It is directly south of Walker Lake. The depot covers 147,000 acres (59,000 ha) or 226 sq. mi. and has 600,000 square feet (56,000 m2) storage space in 2,427 bunkers. HWAD is the "World's Largest Depot" and is divided into three ammunition storage and production areas, plus an industrial area housing command headquarters, facilities engineering shops, etc.
The Department of Neutralization of Armed Elements commonly known by its acronym RENEA, is the main Albanian counter-terrorist and critical incident response unit. The force was constituted in the early 1990s in response to the growing crime levels in the country after the fall of communism. RENEA's responsibilities are rescue operations, hostage situations, counter-terrorism and response to particularly violent forms of crime. Since 1990, the unit has lost four men in action and more than forty wounded. Their skills are highly regarded and well thought-of inside Albania and in the West, they are reported to have one of the highest OPTEMPOs in all of Europe and they have been trained by GSG 9.
The Albanian Civil War, also known as the Albanian rebellion, Albanian unrest or the Pyramid crisis, was a period of civil disorder in Albania in 1997, sparked by Ponzi scheme failures. The government was toppled and more than 2,000 people were killed. It is considered to be either a rebellion, a civil war, or a rebellion that escalated into a civil war.
The German occupation of Albania occurred between 1943 and 1944 during World War II. Before the armistice between Italy and the Allied armed forces on 8 September 1943, Albania had been in a de jure personal union with and was de facto under the control of the Kingdom of Italy. After the armistice and the Italian exit from the Axis, German military forces entered Albania and it came under German occupation, creating the client-state, the Albanian Kingdom under Mehdi Frashëri.
Fatmir Mediu is an Albanian conservative politician. He is the current Chairman of the Republican Party of Albania, and served as Minister of Defence from September 2005 to March 2008, and Minister of Environment, Forests & Water Administration.
The 2008 Chelopechene explosions were a series of explosions that began early on Thursday morning 3 July 2008 at around 6:30 am local time at a munitions depot in the suburb of Chelopechene, 10 kilometres east of the centre of the Bulgarian capital, Sofia. The initial explosions were powerful enough to be heard in the entire capital and surrounding villages. The depot was part of a military facility that specialised in dismantling obsolete ammunition.
The FN 5.7×28mm (designated as the 5.7 × 28 by the C.I.P.) is a small-caliber, high-velocity, smokeless powder, rebated rim, bottlenecked, centerfire handgun and rifle cartridge designed and manufactured by FN Herstal in Belgium. It is similar in length to the .22 WMR (5.7×27mm)and to some degree similar also to .22 Hornet or .22 K-Hornet. Unlike many new cartridges, it has no parent case; the complete package was developed from scratch by FN. The 5.7×28mm was developed in conjunction with the FN P90 personal defense weapon (PDW) and FN Five-seven pistol, in response to NATO requests for a replacement for the 9×19mm Parabellum cartridge. In 2002 and 2003, NATO conducted a series of tests with the intention of standardizing a PDW cartridge as a replacement for the 9×19mm Parabellum cartridge. The tests compared the relative merits of the 5.7×28mm cartridge and the 4.6×30mm cartridge, which was created by Heckler & Koch as a competitor to the 5.7×28mm. The NATO group subsequently recommended the 5.7×28mm cartridge, citing superior performance in testing, but the German delegation objected and the standardization process was indefinitely halted.
On 11 July 2011, a large amount of ammunition and military explosives that had been stored outdoors for over two years at the Evangelos Florakis Naval Base near Zygi, Cyprus, self-detonated, killing 13 people, including the Commander of the Navy, Andreas Ioannides, the base commander and six firefighters. A further 62 people were injured.
Qafë-Shtamë National Park resides in the edge of the mountain chain north of Tirana, about 25 kilometers east of Kruja. The park is named after the Qafë-Shtamë passage, and has an area of 2000 hectares, with a beautiful mountain scenery consisting mainly of pine forests, some small lakes and major water sources. The national park was established in 1996 by the Albanian government. It is becoming lately a popular attraction for hiking.
The ammunition depot at Kalynivka, near Vinnytsia, Ukraine, underwent a series of explosions that started on the evening of September 26, 2017. Ukraine’s State Emergency Service reported on September 30 that the explosions and fire had halted.
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