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The BBC's Colin Blane
"The prospect of finding survivors is almost nil"
 real 28k

Monday, 15 May, 2000, 01:33 GMT 02:33 UK
Search for Enschede survivors ends
Firefighter
About 200 people have yet to be located
Rescuers have given up hope of finding any more survivors of the fireworks factory explosion in the Dutch town of Enschede.

The operation has now become a grim hunt for bodies among the rubble of the approximately 400 destroyed homes.



If there's anyone in there now, they will be dead

Dutch police officer Menno Wagnaar
At least 20 people were killed when an explosion ripped through the SE Fireworks factory on Saturday, showering surrounding streets with debris.

Police officer Menno Wagnaar said: "If there's anyone in there now, they will be dead."

About 200 people have yet to be located. It is hoped they have been staying with friends or relatives since the blast or were away from their homes over the weekend.

The authorities have appealed for anyone living in the area, who has not contacted them, to do so, so they can be removed from the list of missing people.

More than 560 people were injured in the explosion and about 60 people have been admitted to a number of regional hospitals - 11 of them are in intensive care units.

Searching

Click here for a map of central Enschede, on the German border

Throughout Sunday, investigators searched for bodies and clues to what started the fire.


Firefighter with his bike
The explosion destroyed about 400 houses
They examined blackened, twisted hulks of cars and sifted through the rubble of houses with their bare hands as firefighters extinguished persistent flames.

Deputy Mayor Rinus Althof said some areas were still too hot to allow investigators to enter.

Enschede Mayor Jan Mans told a news conference the teams would continue searching.

"We have only investigated a small area and it will take quite some time [to complete]," he said.

Asbestos

Meanwhile, the Dutch Government has warned that potentially harmful asbestos has been released into the air by the explosion.

After the explosions at the fireworks warehouse, the fire moved to a Grolsch brewery next door, which has an asbestos roof.



How could this happen and why here, why these people?

Prime Minister Wim Kok

Residents in the northern districts of Enschede, Hengelo and Delden were advised to wash their clothes and not to do anything that might disturb the asbestos dust.

However, the mayor of Enschede said the levels were lower than had been feared, and some workers would be allowed to start repairing houses.

Full investigation to follow

Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok, who visited the scene, said a full investigation would be conducted into the tragedy, and pledged virtually unlimited government resources to help rebuild the shattered city.


Queen Beatrix comforts a police officer
Queen Beatrix (right) visited the scene
"How could this happen and why here, why these people?" he said.

Queen Beatrix also visited the scene, witnessing streets carpeted with glass, burnt and flattened cars and houses with their roofs blasted off.

Shocked residents are asking why a fireworks depot was allowed to be situated in such a built-up area.

Many town councillors say they were not aware there was a fireworks warehouse near the stricken residential district


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13 May 00 | Europe
In pictures: Firework blaze
14 May 00 | Media reports
Dutch PM shocked by blast chaos
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