A large explosion rocked a fireworks factory in the Hendek district of the northwestern province of Sakarya at around 11:15 a.m. on July 3.
Authorities said late on July 3 that four people were killed and 108 others were hospitalized as a result of the blast. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said that of the 108 people, 48 were released from hospital.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said that three more people were still unaccounted for.
An investigation has been launched to determine the cause of the incident.
Koca said earlier that a total of 20 workers of the factory weren’t on site, adding they formed an emergency center to deal with the incident.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that there were 189 workers inside the complex that consisted of 15 buildings, adding that he talked to the owner of the factory following the blast.
Koca put the number of workers at 186.
Fire department teams weren’t able to intervene in the fire for a long time since explosions continued to take place. The chemicals in the facility also prevented fire teams from continuing its works.
Strict security measures were taken around the area.
“There are around 150-200 people [at the site] according to information from the factory owner but we can’t intervene because explosions are continuing,” Sakarya Governor Çetin Oktay Kaldırım said, adding that there were 110 tons of explosives in the factory.
Turkish Red Crescent head Kerem Kınık warned residents of the area to remain indoors and shut their windows and doors.
“It’s a gas that has negative effects on health chemically,” Kınık said in a tweet, while also advising people to put wet towels on their doors if the smoke is too intense.
Following social media posts on possible radiation leak, Turkey’s National Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) released a statement, saying that there is no such danger since it’s an industrial accident.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ordered Minister Soylu, Minister Koca and Family, Labor and Social Services Minister Zehra Zümrüt Selçuk to head to the scene of the blast.
Experts point to negligence
This is not the first time that a blast took place in the factory.
Six explosions took place in the past 11 years in the factory, with authorities changing the name of the facility after each one to continue to operate.
One worker was killed and another was wounded in the explosion on Sept. 29, 2009.
One worker was killed and 10 others were wounded in the blast on Feb. 11, 2011, with the factory manager saying that the worker was killed “out of fear.”
In the blast on Dec. 14, 2014, 38-year-old worker Yılmaz Şapoğlu was killed.
Experts speaking to Turkish media channels pointed to the lack of necessary measures in the factory, pointing to negligence.