17 people killed in Turkish plant blasts

Two blasts in Ankara devastate industrial zones

Rescue workers search for survivors (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Rescue workers search for survivors (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

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Two explosions in the Turkish capital of Ankara that have claimed the lives of 17 people may have been caused by faulty oxygen tanks.

An official investigation is underway as Turkish prosecutors seek to find out why two explosions occurred in factories located in neighbouring industrial zones on Thursday.

The first blast at a construction machinery factory occurred at 11:00 at the city’s Middle East Trade and Industry Center's (OSTİM) Organized Industrial Zone.

The force of the explosion was so great that two floors of the generator factory collapsed, killing seven people and injuring 34 others.

At 19:30, a second explosion in the nearby İvedik Organized Industrial Zone destroyed a paint plant, killing ten workers and injuring 13 others.

Local media reported that officials from the Ankara Governor’s Office first thought the explosions were unconnected, but İvedik Organized Industrial Zone president Hasan Gültekin said it had been revealed that both factories used the same brand of industrial tubes, and that the explosions might have been caused by a leakage from the tubes or from a manufacturing defect.

The Turkish media had suggested that the factory where the first explosion had taken place was manufacturing without permits or licences, but this has subsequently been denied by Aydın Özkan, the owner of the factory.

The Eurasian Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association’s (ASİAD) Ankara branch president, Serhat Esen, responded to the news by stating that negligence was behind both explosions, despite Özkan’s protestations.

“There are laws in Turkey guaranteeing the safety of workers and workplaces. But what purpose do laws and regulations serve if nobody complies with them? The result is just a fiasco,” Esen wrote in a statement.

“Why did explosions take place in these factories? We want to know who is responsible for the explosions as a result of a well-conducted investigation and [want to ensure] their punishment in the best way possible.”

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