The circle shows the potential damage area of an explosion at the military camp in Bubanza.
MAG has safely removed two tonnes of decaying dynamite in Bubanza province that was putting more than 1,000 lives at risk.
The out-of-use, leaking dynamite belonged to a foreign building company and was being stored in two unventilated containers inside a military camp.
Unplanned explosions at munitions sites: a global problem
There have been more than 50 unplanned explosions at munitions sites in 34 countries since 2009, and five in the last five months alone.
On 4 March 2012, a series of explosions occurred in a munitions depot in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, killing more than 280 people, injuring 1,500 and making 14,000 homeless.
The blast is believed to have been caused by a fire as a result of an electrical fault.
As dynamite is very sensitive it should not be stored in hot temperatures for more than a year, but until MAG’s intervention this had been stored for over four years in containers that can top 40°c under the sun.
The hundred families living in the nearby buildings faced death or serious injury if just one dynamite stick had ignited, while civilians in the neighbouring village and surrounding areas would also have been at risk from projectiles from the explosion.
“Dynamite in that condition can be set off with a simple spark, or if roughly handled, and create a deadly blast wave, giving absolutely no chance to material or human within a radius of 100 metres,” said Didier Perardel, MAG Burundi’s Technical Operations Manager.
(The discovery of this dynamite follows the tragic series of explosions in a munitions depot in the Republic of Congo capital of Brazzaville, that killed over 280 people, injured 1,500 and made 14,000 homeless. The blast is believed to have been caused by a fire as a result of an electrical fault.)
A MAG-trained Burundian Army team transported the dynamite to a destruction area 15km away [see photo below].
The dynamite is prepared for demolition, along with other dangerous items collected by the team.
[Photo: MAG Burundi]
MAG technicians had heard about the containers while carrying out a weapons and ammunition collection at the camp, as part of an ongoing project with the Army, the Force de Defense Nationale (FDN).
Following a nationwide survey of stockpiles, MAG trained and now supervises a team from the FDN in the destruction of surplus and obsolete weapons and ammunition. The aim is to guard against these reaching the black market and non-state armed groups.
MAG Burundi has been working directly with the FDN since 2007, developing its capacity to safely secure and manage its SALW stocks.
Our thanks to the US Department of State's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement for its funding of MAG's operations in Burundi.
22 May 2012