Four dead and dozens injured after major explosion at Turkish fireworks factory

At least four people are reported to have died and 97 injured after a series of explosions at a fireworks factory in Hendek, Sakarya, 112 miles east of Istanbul.

The first explosion occurred at 11.05 local time, followed by another at 11.15 and a third at 11.18. Locals initially feared the explosions were bombs, such was the severity of the blasts.

Several ministers have rushed to the scene, declared a major emergency, as firefighters battle the blaze and medical staff treat dozens of staff caught up in the blasts. It’s not clear how many of the factory’s 195 staff were present at the time.

“It is said they have around 150-200 employees. They are not allowing anyone in other than ambulances and the fire brigade. I have no definite information,” said Hendek Council Leader Turgut Babaoğlu.

“The explosions are still going on. I am 300 meters from the scene. Explosions are continuing, although not as strong as the original one. All [emergency] teams are here right now. The facility is some 16 kilometres from Hendek district,” the official added.

Sakarya Governor Çetin Oktay Kaldırım told media that the factory was Turkey’s biggest site for fireworks, and that emergency staff were being held back by the ongoing explosions on site:

“All possible precautions and security measures surrounding the factory have been taken. As it is a fireworks factory and explosions are continuing, we cannot intervene at the moment,” adding that they believe “there are around 110 tons of explosive fireworks [inside the factory].”

Commenting on the situation, Mutlu Işıksu, head of Sakarya Council, said:

“The emerging picture is grave. We are trying to remove our injured [from the factory]. The explosions still continue. We have asked for help from Düzce and Kocaeli, we need help from all [local] teams.”

This is the third fire at the factory in the past eleven years. In an explosion in 2009, one person lost their life and 37 were injured. Another explosion in 2014 also led to a fatality, with two injured.