Police say munitions store explosion likely not accidental
A munitions depot outside a village in eastern Moravia continues to make headlines in the Czech Republic. Hours after a pyrotechnics expert said that blasts there last week were unlikely to have been accidental, the site saw fresh blasts on Tuesday night – further delaying complicated clean-up work.
Finance Minister Andrej Babiš has raised questions about the company that operates the munitions store, Imex Group, saying the second series of explosions could not have occurred by accident.
This claim has now been echoed by the head of the police pyrotechnics team investigating the blasts, Jiří Lačňák.
“If everything is in the state that it should be, there is no threat of a spontaneous explosion. There could only be such a threat if, for instance, the materials were handled in an inappropriate way.”
Hours after he made that statement on Tuesday, there were more explosions at the site after a lull of four days. Though the detonations were relatively weak, and even went unnoticed by many in the area, the work of pyrotechnics specialists still has to be postponed by the same number of days. They will now not be able to carry out a close examination until, at the earliest, the end of next week.
At the end of this week the Chamber of Deputies is to meet for a special session on the Vrbětice situation, with the opposition likely to make hay from what many perceive to be the government’s poor handling of the situation.
Ahead of Friday’s debate, Defence Minister Martin Stropnický outlined plans for disposing of the explosive materials.
“The greatest share belongs to the company Excalibur and we expect that some of its material will be transferred to a munitions store at Květná. What cannot be removed will be destroyed on site. That which can be removed but is seriously damaged will be removed to the Libavá military area.”
Meanwhile, newspaper Lidové noviny on Wednesday published the first detailed information about what kind of munitions have been held at the site. Quoting an internal Ministry of Defence document, it says the store held close to 60 aerial bombs, thousands of grenades and machine guns and almost four million rounds of ammunition.