Science and Technology of Energetic Materials

Vol.63, No.6 (2002)

Research paper

The fireworks disaster in enschede
Part 1: Overview and reconstruction
J. Weerheijm, R.M.M van Wees, P.C.A.M. de Bruyn, and J.W. Karelse


Saturday afternoon May 13,2000 a major fireworks incident occurred at the company S.E. Fireworks in the city of Enschede, the Netherlands. Twenty - two people were killed and more than seven hundred were injured. Within a radius of hundreds of meters houses were destroyed by the blast and debris generated by the explosions and burnt because of the scattered fireworks.
   The possible causes, safety regulations and safety control were investigated. By order of the Public Prosecutor the Netherlands Forensic Science Institute (NFI) and TNO Prins Maurits Laboratory (TNO - PML) performed the forensic and technical investigations into the reconstruction and the cause of this disaster.
   Within an hour the incident developed from a moderate fire and some initiated fireworks in one of the buildings into a series of three explosions of increasing violence. Many people witnessed the accident (at distance) and numerous video recordings from different angles were made. After the disaster an extensive investigation was started. The observed explosion effects, the inventory of the damage in the area and all the forensic evidence were analysed. They form the basis for the reconstruction of the disaster. This will be presented in the first paper. Scenarios for possible causes of each of the events were developed and analysed. The second paper on the firework disaster in Enschede focuses on the chain of events and the lessons that have to be learned from this disaster, Weerheijm and De Bruyn7).

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Explosion ; fire ; accident ; damage analysis ; forensics ; fireworks ; safety regulations ; bulk storage ; dangerous goods ; transport classification.

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