Expatica news

City commemorates fireworks blast

13 May 2005

AMSTERDAM — Enschede is commemorating the five-year anniversary of the massive fireworks explosion that ripped through a residential district killing 22 people.

The theme of Friday’s anniversary is ‘commemoration in passing’, expressing the idea that despite construction work on a new residential area, the disaster will never be forgotten. However, the theme also looks to the future.

Flags on city council, fire brigade and police buildings will fly at half-mast throughout Friday. Members of the public may also fly a flag at half-mast.

A silent march has been organised for 3pm throyught the under-construction residential district of Roombeek, where the SE Fireworks warehouse exploded on 13 May 2000.

Between 3.25pm and 3.30pm all church bells in Enschede will ring.

The names of the 22 people killed and a personal story of a victim will be read aloud. Newly-appointed Enschede Mayor Peter den Oudsten will give a short speech.

Besides the 22 deaths, more than a 1,000 people were injured and some 400 homes were destroyed in the Roombeek district by the massive explosion.

Austrian-based Federal Research Institute Arsenal concluded earlier this month that the enormous size of the blast was due to the packaging of the fireworks.

It said the paper packaging was transformed into carbon by the fire, contributing to a second explosion and a pressure wave that ripped the roofs off nearby houses.

The exact cause of the blast has never been determined, but Dutch research bureau TNO has blamed the force of the explosion on the large number of fireworks found at the warehouse. It has refused to amend its findings in response to the Austrian report.

Initially sentenced to 15 years jail for arson at the warehouse, Enschede man Andre de Vries was acquitted on appeal in May 2003 and awarded EUR 125,000 in compensation a year later.

The Supreme Court ordered in February the two directors of the warehouse to serve out a 12-month jail term for their role in the explosion.

Directors Rudi Bakker and Willy Pater were convicted for culpable homicide, negligence, environmental breaches and illegally storing fireworks. But in response to the recent Austrian report, they might seek a new hearing.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news