At least four dead, dozens injured after fireworks factory explosion in Sakarya
The explosion occurred at a Sakarya fireworks factory at about 11.00 a.m. local time (0800GMT) on July 3. Firefighters and ambulances were sent to the factory outside the town of Hendek, in Sakarya, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. The factory is away from residential areas.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, Minister Koca and Family Labor and Social Services Minister Zümrüt Zehra Selçuk arrived in Sakarya, upon instructions from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Koca said on Twitter that 114 people have been hospitalized due to their injuries. Some 92 people, who were hospitalized, have been discharged, the minister said.
He added that the remaining 22 injured are still receiving medical treatment.
Speaking to reporters after his arrival, Soylu said that the total number of people authorities were unable to reach is seven. He said that four people out of the seven have lost their lives, while rescue efforts are ongoing for the remaining three people.
Meanwhile, Minister Selçuk said that according to the Social Security Institution (SGK) records, the factory has 186 employees.
Selçuk also added that the numbers can change because there can be visitors at the factory. Officials at the ministry are carrying out works to find out if any visitors were present during the explosion, she said.
Sakarya Chief Public Prosecutor's Office launched an investigation into the factory explosion. Authorities will take the statements of factory officials, according to local media reports.
In the meantime, President Erdoğan stated that all measures were taken after the explosion.
“It is our hope that these injured people will return to their families in a healthy way and not to receive negative news about those injured inside,” Erdoğan added.
Previously, Sakarya Governor Çetin Oktay Kaldırım said that there were about 150 to 200 people working in the factory at the time of the explosion. The factory had 110 tonnes of fireworks in its warehouse, the governor said.
The fire crews were unable to intervene in the incident initially due to ongoing explosions, but they secured the perimeter of the factory, Kaldırım said.
Fire crews fought to contain the blaze ignited by an initial blast in the province’s Hendek district, Turkey’s disaster and emergency management directorate AFAD said in a statement, describing it as an industrial accident.
Television video showed a large, mushroom-shaped cloud of smoke rising from the factory.
The explosion was also heard from other provinces such as Sakarya, Kocaeli and Düzce.
Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) head Kerem Kınık urged Hendek residents to stay at home and close their windows and doors in a bid to prevent inhaling the toxic fumes. Kınık said that chemical fumes from the explosion can negatively impact one's health.
The same facility was hit by explosions in 2009, 2011 and 2014 that killed three workers.