Deadly Explosion in Mihailesti

24 mai 2004

Huge explosion near Buzau County… this is an important story for
Romanians and I thought I’d translate a couple of articles so that the
entire world can know what happened.

Quick recap: a truck carrying ammonium nitrate (fertilizer, half of the explosive
known as ANFO)
skidded on a rural road and caught fire. Because this was a small town,
a lot of local people gathered around to watch the firefighters try to
put out the blaze. A TV crew from a national station was also on scene,
reporting the accident. About an hour later, the diesel fuel (FO)
caught on fire, combining with the fertilizer (AN) to form a gigantic
explosion. The crater in the picture above is over 40 feet across.

One last note before the articles: in America we rely on volunteer
firefighting departments while in Romania the military staffs most of
the firefighting brigades.

Explosion in Mihailesti Kills and Injures Several, Destroys Dozens of Buildings

Dozens of buildings were destroyed in the town of Mihailesti in Buzau
County on Monday when a truck loaded with fertilizer exploded. The
number of dead and wounded from the explosion continues to rise
according to a preliminary report from local authorities.

According to the Ministry of the Interior, at least 16 people died in
the explosion on Monday, six of which were firefighters (1 officer, 1
lieutenant and the rest enlisted), two journalists and eight people who
were in nearby vehicles.

“One soldier is missing, and the whereabouts of 3 local people is
unknown. The total number of people killed is not yet determined,” said
a spokesperson for the ministry, Gabriel Oprea.

According to reports so far, many people were injured in the explosion,
among them five firefighters. Eleven people have been sent to local
hospitals for their injures (9 in Buzau and 2 in Bucharest), although
it is not known how many locals sought treatment for minor injuries
caused by metal shrapnel from the explosion.

The Ministry of Health announced on Monday that four people were sent
to the Buzau Emergency Hospital for plastic surgery: Raluca Novac (15
years old), Bianca Gheorge (37), Cornel Ciobanu (22) and Mariana Bratu
(19). It was also reported that Alin Majearu (28), Gabriel Tudose (27)
and Nicoleta Popa (29) had been admitted to the surgery ward in the
same hospital.

Two other people, Romeo Panciu (age 20) and Ramon Patrascu (20), both
military firefighters, were released from the hospital after treatment
for minor injuries.

The Ministry of Health also announced that Gabriel Hurluc (34) and
Marian Ilie (20) were sent to the Floreasca Emergency Hospital. Both
were in surgery at the time of this report. According to the Military
Firefighter spokesperson, these two individuals were members of the
military firefighting brigade “Neron Lupascu” based in Buzau.

Currently, there is no information about whether the driver of the
truck that exploded has survived. Florin Marcu was the individual who
called the fire department and reported the explosion.

In total, the explosion also destroyed two firefighting vehicles as well as six
other cars.

“Preliminary reports are that 16 houses have damaged roofs and cracked
windows and another ten had their windows completely blown out”, said
Oprea. According to the ministry, a local school and the mayor’s office
were among the damaged buildings.

The head of Buzau County, Ioan Vasile, told Mediafax that the damage in
the area will be repaired “as soon as possible”. Buzau County lawmakers
are expected to allocate funds for the reconstruction.

“The legislature is going to work with the mayor and assistant mayor to
make a full evaluation of the damage. Right now we’re going to work to
replace the broken windows and we hope to have all of them replaced in
the next few days” stated the Buzau County leader.

According to him, the number of dead may rise because “the first
explosion attracted a large number of local spectators”. Attempting to
describe the devastation caused by the explosion, Ioan Vasile, who
arrived on the scene less than an hour after the explosion, said “the
area was full of bodies and dirt”.

I’ve also translated this article as well:

Tragedy in Mihailesti near Buzau

On Monday morning, the town of Mihailesti witnessed a tragedy.

A powerful explosion at approximately 5:00am on European Road 85, just
outside the town, killed nearly everyone for 1 kilometer around.

A tractor trailer carrying ammonium nitrate which apparently skidded on
the road, exploded near Mihailesti. According to the first reports, at
least 17 people died and 10 were injured.

According to official statements, among the dead were members of the
local Military Firefighters brigade, police officers and two
journalists from antena 1 tv station, one a correspondent named Elena
Popescu (age 26) and her cameraman, Ionut Barcu (age 25).

Around 5:50am, when the firefighters were trying to extinguish the first blaze,
the truck’s cargo suddenly exploded.

The Antena 1 correspondeds died when they were standing too close to
the exploding truck while they were getting ready to go on the air.

Among the dead are six firefighters and eight people who were passengers in nearby

Many people were injured, among them 5 firefighters and the Chief of
Police in Mihailesti, who is now in Critical Condition in Floreasca
Hospital in Bucharest.

It seems also that two firefighting vehicles and six cars were destroyed.

Quoted by Rompress [ media agency ], the Traffic Police Chief stated that
the DN 2 highway between kilometers 79 and 200 is closed because of the
tragedy in Mihailesti.

Two victims were admitted to the Floreasca Emergency Hospital in
Bucharest, police chief Gabriel Nicolae Hurlup (age 34) and military
firefighter Ilie Marian (age 20). Both are listed in grave condition.

The head of Buzau County, Ion Vasile, declared that this Monday is a day of mourning
for the county.



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