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Beirut blast: The other countries with dangerous dumps of explosives

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EPA

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The deadly explosion in Beirut destroyed the city’s port and nearby areas

The devastating explosion in Beirut is a grim reminder of a deeply troubling fact: the thousands of tonnes of ammonium nitrate unsafely stored in that city’s port is not the only site at risk of spontaneous detonation.

In the Philippines, Ukraine, Georgia, Libya and Guinea-Bissau there are dangerous dumps of munitions left over from both past and present conflicts, some of them perilously close to residential areas.

According to the Swiss-based monitoring agency Small Arms Survey, between 1979 and August last year almost 30,000 people across 101 countries were killed or injured by unplanned explosions at munitions sites (UEMS).

Of the 606 recorded incidents, nearly three quarters involved state-owned stockpiles. One of the worst explosions took place at Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo in 2012, killing more than 500 people.

Simon Conway, a senior director with the British mine-clearing charity Halo Trust, says the first step needed is to get governments to admit that these arms depots are unsafe. “They are not considered to be a problem until they explode,” he says.

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AFP

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The explosion in the Republic of Congo in 2012 caused widespread damage

The next step is to bring in people with the right expertise to move the explosive stores away from residential areas and then destroy them.

“Often these sites have poor security and it would be all too easy for ingredients to go missing that later turn up in an IED [improvised explosive device],” says Mr Conway.

So after Beirut, where else should we be worried about today? Which other sites are what munitions experts consider to be potential ticking time bombs?

The Philippines

On an overgrown snake-infested island in Manila Bay sits a store of deteriorating US munitions dating back to World War Two. Rusting shells, depth charges, mortar bombs and other projectiles litter the floor of a bunker while crates of explosives and propellant charges are stacked all the way up to the ceiling.

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Simon Conway, HALO Trust

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Projectiles litter the floor of a bunker on Caballo Island

The Halo Trust estimates that on Caballo Island and at another site nearby there are a total of 1.6 million explosive items – enough, it is feared, to potentially destroy the local airport at Corregidor and threaten passing ships in Manila Bay.

Mr Conway, who has inspected the site with the Philippine military, says there are two sheds containing 200,000 anti-aircraft rounds. “If those sheds went up it would definitely affect the nearby airport,” he says.

There are more World War Two munitions stored at a naval base close to the capital, Manila, where Mr Conway says they are dangerously stored next to modern artillery rounds.

The horror of what happened in Beirut port has not been lost on local authorities there. Within days the Philippines Navy called Halo to discuss how best to dispose of all this ammunition safely.

More on the explosion in Beirut

Guinea-Bissau

One of the most concerning sites is in the West African state of Guinea-Bissau where an unknown quantity of Soviet-era aircraft bombs are corroding in the heat and humidity in several sheds, close to centres of population.

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Simon Conway, HALO Trust

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Some of the weapons being stored in Guinea-Bissau are considered highly unstable

Some of the bombs date back to the 1950s and are thought highly unstable. The site of most concern sits next to the country’s second city of Bafata with a population of 22,500.

Talks with the government on how to safely dispose of it have been under way since 2005 but have been slowed by local politics. The Halo Trust says they have begun building safer depots but as yet, nothing has been destroyed.

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Media captionStarting with the epicentre, we follow how the blast ripped through Beirut

Libya

Libya has been awash with weapons and munitions ever since the revolution of 2011 that overthrew the regime of Muammar Gaddafi. The UN estimates there are more than 200,000 tonnes of munitions unaccounted for, beyond government control.

“This stuff is easily trafficked down to the Sahel countries or elsewhere,” says Mr Conway.

On 6 May there was an initial explosion at an ammunition store outside the town of Misrata, followed by days more of subsequent explosions as missiles, rockets and aircraft bombs blew up, scattering shrapnel over a wide area and causing an unknown number of casualties.

Halo has been working to make safe the remaining unexploded ordnance. Today one of the sites of most concern is the large Gaddafi-era arms depot at Mizdah which is close to a town of over 20,000 people.

Those trying to clear up these hazards are not only having to cope with the restrictions caused by Covid-19 but also with the perpetual dangers of Libya’s ongoing civil war.

Ukraine

Like several of the former Soviet republics, Ukraine has a number of arms dumps left over from when it was part of the USSR.

In 2017 two of these exploded. One in eastern Ukraine blew up a huge store of missiles and artillery shells, prompting the evacuation of more than 20,000 residents living within 10km (six miles) of the dump.

Later that year another arms dump explosion caused a giant fireball, visible from a great distance, destroying an estimated 32,000 tonnes of munitions and again sending projectiles high into the air.

Both Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have also suffered from unplanned explosions at arms dumps.

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Media captionThe BBC’s Quentin Sommerville speaks to the fiancé of Sahar Fares, a firefighter medic who died in the blast in Beirut

Breakaway Georgian republic of Abkhazia

In August 2017 an unplanned explosion at a warehouse on the Black Sea storing more than 2,000 tonnes of high explosive ammunition sent missiles and other projectiles up into the air that landed up to 12km away.

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Simon Conway, HALO Trust

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The site of the explosion that is now being cleaned up

The Halo Trust has been clearing up the area ever since, destroying more than 90,000 items but a third of the affected area has still to be made safe.

For all of these countries the explosion in the Lebanese capital is a terrifying reminder of what can happen when unstable explosive material is unsafely stored.

Munitions experts are now hoping that if anything positive can possibly come out of the tragedy in Beirut, it will be a renewed global urgency to make these stockpiles safe, before it is too late.



Source – www.bbc.co.uk

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million

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Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe

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A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.



Source – observer.ug

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News

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Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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