Science and Technology of Energetic Materials

Vol.63, No.6 (2002)

Research paper

The fireworks disaster in enschede
Part 2: Safety & pyrotechnics
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. Within an hour the incident developed from a moderate fire and some initiating fireworks in one ofthe buildings into a series of three explosions of increasing violence. Many people witnessed the accident and numerous video recordings from different angles were made.
   The possible causes, safety regulations and safety control were investigated. By order of the Public Prosecutor the Netherlands Forensic Science lnstitute (NFI) and TNO Prins Maurits Laboratory (TNO - PML) performed the forensic and technical investigations into the reconstruction and the cause of this disaster. 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. Scenarios for possible causes of each of the events were developed and analysed. The events and effects were presented in the first paper (Weerheijm and De Bruynl4). This second paper deals with the most probable chain of events and the lessons to be learned concerning the (bulk) storage of pyrotechnics in general and fireworks specifically.

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