Ammo depot blast due to negligence, probe finds

Ammo depot blast due to negligence, probe finds

Negligence was involved in the blast at an ammunition depot on a Hellenic Air Force base south of the city of Volos in central Greece on July 27, according to the partial release of the main conclusions of the administrative inquiry to determine how a wildfire nearby caused the explosions.

The blast at the Nea Anchialos Air Base was caused by the detonation of the explosives of the general purpose bombs stored in an external area of the warehouse, the inquiry showed. 

It concluded that the fire reached there through an area where the necessary deforestation had not been carried out, while it also said that the existing firebreaks were inadequate. 

“The very small firebreak zone around the depots was not enough to prevent the intense heat load due to the fire spreading in the aforementioned un-deforested part of the base,” it said.

The inquiry also noted that the wildfire moved, combined with its swirling and wind speed, quickly toward the ammunition area. 

This is why the Fire Service was ordered to evacuate the area.

According to an aerial photograph of the camp from open sources (at a time earlier than the explosions), part of the land belonging to the Hellenic Air Force was beyond the fire zone – i.e. beyond the visible fence. In short, part of the land had not been deforested, and there was fuel there for the fire to spread to the ammunition depots. 

Although international standards for the storage of general purpose bombs (with steel casings) outdoors were adhered to, the heat load generated by the fire led to their detonation.

The investigation committee has taken note of “the omissions and negligence of the Hellenic Air Force personnel,” and they will be held responsible for their respective roles, as recorded in the report’s conclusion.

In the wake of the incident, the commander of the 111 Combat Wing was removed from his position. 

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