Explosion at Hanwha arms factory kills 2 workers, injures 7

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Explosion at Hanwha arms factory kills 2 workers, injures 7

Two workers were killed and seven injured in an explosion at a Hanwha arms factory in Daejeon on Tuesday.

The explosion occurred at around 4:17 p.m. in a factory warehouse as workers were filling a rocket propellant container with fuel, police said. The blast damaged 50 square meters of the building and blew out a portion of its steel-reinforced concrete wall and entryway.

According to police, three of the injured are in critical condition with third-degree burns and the other four sustained light injuries. A 33-year-old surnamed Kim and an unnamed 23-year-old were killed in the blast.

The North Daejeon Fire Department responded to the emergency call with 53 firefighters and 29 rescue vehicles. The Daejeon Yuseong District Police Department led a joint investigation on Wednesday morning with the National Forensics Service, Daejeon Regional Employment and Labor Administration and Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency.

“The explosion occurred while solid fuel was being inserted into a rocket propellant container,” a source at Hanwha Defense Systems, the company that owns the factory, said. The source added that gas might have leaked out of a chlorinated polyvinyl chloride pipe after it was damaged during the shipping process.

How the gas ignited remains unknown. Fueling is normally done in average temperature and pressure environments.

Hanwha Defense Systems has promised full cooperation with authorities to discover the cause of the accident.

Since the factory produces military equipment, it has been designated as a top-class security target and is strictly off limits to civilians. The company has not divulged any details about its production, though the warehouse is known to fuel rockets, torpedoes and other types of military explosives. Hanwha operates four such arms facilities across the country, including the one at Daejeon.

The Daejeon Regional Employment and Labor Administration ordered a halt to all operations at the plant on Wednesday and plans to inspect the factory’s safety equipment and protocol over the next two weeks.

BY SHIM KYU-SEOK [shim.kyuseok@joongang.co.kr]
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