Bulgaria's Deputy Defense Minister: Blast Scene Is Terrifying

Defense | June 7, 2012, Thursday // 11:31|  views

Bulgarian Deputy Defense Minister, Valentin Radev, confirmed earlier reports of safety violations at the exploded ammo depot near Sliven. Photo by BGNES

The shop at the ammo facility in southeastern Bulgaria where a blast occurred Tuesday has been totaled to the ground, Deputy Defense Minister, Valentin Radev, informs.

Speaking for TV7 Thursday, the Deputy Minister informed he personally entered the blasted shop three times already with hopes to find the missing people, and explained that the scene was terrifying.

"The explosions went from shop to shop. Everything has been destroyed," said he.

On Tuesday, a series of blasts occurred at a private-owned ammo site near the Petolachkata road junction close to Sliven, injuring 9 people, two of them critically. Three of the ammunition depot's employees went missing and are now presumed dead despite the ongoing search effort.

Commenting on media reports that workers at the facility were not qualified and paid very low wages (BGN 350 a month on average), Radev stated his institution has long insisted on hiring only qualified people for such positions.

"We have qualified staff in Bulgaria, but no one hires them," he explained.

No new blasts have been registered at the site overnight. According to the rules, the inspection can start 24 hours after the last blast, which occurred around noon on Wednesday. The Yambol Regional Prosecutor is the one to assess the situation and issue an entrance permit.

The 9 injured were listed in the hospitals in the nearby cities of Sliven and Yambol and are now all upgraded to stable condition.

The road between the capital Sofia and the Black Sea city of Burgas remains closed for traffic in the area of Petolachkata. There are two detours – Saransko-Tamarino-Sredets and Yambol-Ekzarh Antimovo-Karnobat.

Signs with pictures of exploded shells and the 112 emergency hotline number will be placed on nearby roads. The police are asking citizens to not touch shell parts if they stumble upon them and to dial 112.

Radev confirmed earlier reports of safety violations at the depot such as storing much larger quantities of explosives than the permissible ones.

He reiterated that the facility has been purchased by current owner Bareta Trading from the bankrupt company Trema, and had never been used as military barracks or ground.

"The Defense Ministry is there to help, but we have nothing to do with the depot," stressed he.

Regarding alleged conflict of interests of Heni Shiyakova, an expert from the Defense Ministry, who went on an expensive and exotic vacation to Bali, paid for by Bereta Trading, the Deputy Minister clarified the case dated from 2008 and a probe has been launched again. He promised the expert would be fired if the probe concludes that she had indeed committed conflict of interests.

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Tags: Deputy Defense Minister, Valentin Radev, explosion, ammunition depot. ammo site, Anyu Angelov, explosions, blasts, unmanned aircraft, Sliven, safety, violations, Bereta Trading, conflict of interests, Defense Ministry, expert, vacation, Bali


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