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The BBC's John Kay
"The impact of the blast was immense"
 real 28k

The BBC's Geraldine Coughlan in The Hague
"The hospitals are full"
 real 28k

The BBC's John McIntyre
"Enschede was dealing with a calamity"
 real 28k

Sunday, 14 May, 2000, 02:48 GMT 03:48 UK
Dutch fireworks disaster

Plumes of smoke cover the Dutch town
At least 20 people have been killed and about 300 injured in an explosion which destroyed a Dutch fireworks warehouse.

Neighbouring streets in the eastern town of Enschede were showered with debris from the blast.



This is truly a calamity

Jan Mans
Town mayor
Eyewitnesses spoke of limbs flying through the air and dead bodies lying in the smouldering rubble.

Firefighters were tackling a fire at the warehouse when the explosion ripped through the building sending debris and fireworks into the air.

Locals had been watching firefighters tackle the blaze - and at least one was filming the fire - when the factory exploded.

The Interior Ministry has set up a co-ordination centre and declared the town a disaster area.


Ambulances
Many injured were taken to nearby cities
Enschede was built around the SE Fireworks factory, which is the only one in the Netherlands to be located in a residential area

The local mayor, Jan Mans, says he fears "there will be even more" casualties.

""I'm afraid that there are more people buried under the rubble. This is truly a calamity," he said.

Rescuers are working through the night, sifting through wrecked homes looking for dead and injured.

Cross-border assistance

One firefighter has been confirmed dead, although early reports indicated up to six firefighters had been killed.

Fire crews were called in from across the border in Germany to help battle the blaze.


Smoke
The massive black cloud was visible for kilometres
Many casualties had to be taken to hospitals in other cities because local ones were unable to cope with the number of blast victims.

The force of the explosion, which happened just after 1600 (1400 GMT) was heard in nearby towns.

It left a swathe of damage in Enschede, blowing out windows and setting on fire nearby buildings - including a Grolsch brewery.

Huge clouds of smoke enveloped many parts of the city, which is about 140km east of Amsterdam and only a few kilometres from the German border.

By Saturday evening the fire had been brought under control.

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