Fatal explosion blamed on faulty fuse

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Fatal explosion blamed on faulty fuse

A poorly assembled fuse inside an artillery shell was the cause of 155-millimeter towed gun explosion that killed one and injured five while it was testing shells for the gun at a military shooting range in Pocheon, Gyeonggi, last December.

The Defense Ministry’s Criminal Investigation Command said it organized a joint investigation team composed of police and military officers to probe the incident, said Lt. Col. Kwon Tae-seok. Kwon declined to say how the detonator was poorly assembled.

The team checked the accident scene, debris, remaining shells that were to be tested and the production process of shells. It also conducted computer simulations of the explosion.

“We plan to tighten safety examinations of firing ranges by making advance tests on ammunition compulsory and installing closed circuit surveillance cameras to prevent further accidents,” said Kwon.

He said it was up to police and prosecutors to decide who should be held legally responsible for the explosion.

The Defense Acquisition Program Administration and the Agency for Defense Development yesterday jointly held an unveiling ceremony of a stone in memory of Jeong Gi-chang, a 40-year-old male employee of the agency who died in the incident, according to the administration.

The explosion took place at the Darakdae shooting range in Pocheon on Dec. 3. The range, located about one kilometer (0.6 mile) from the agency north of Seoul, serves as a proving ground for testing of artillery and other weapons. Testers were slated to fire 16 shots from the gun but as they attempted the sixth shot, the weapon exploded. An earlier explosion during weapons performance testing occurred on May 17, 1977. One person was killed instantly.


By Lee Min-yong [smartpower@joongang.co.kr]

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