Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Taking the Fun out of Fireworks

I was finally settling down to prepare my slides for my upcoming integration webinar when BOOM! Our whole apartment block shook violently. It felt like an earth quake. I heard some nearby cries outside our door and thought there must have been an explosion in the building. Then I caught a glimpse of a bellowing mushroom cloud out of our window. It was a huge blast and seemed to be close to our town centre.
I decided to go and investigate further. Walking up the road I started to pick up a strong scent of burning fireworks. Malta takes great pride in their Festa firework displays and every year there is usually an explosion reported at a remote, makeshift factory - always with fatalities - and this seemed like a similar situation. Except that the explosion happened in populated area. As I got closer a bystander confirmed that a car full of fireworks had ignited in a garage. The car parked in a confined space behaved like a bomb and destroyed 3 residence buildings and the cars parked outside. I got this picture with my iPhone -

Needless to say there are already fatalities reported with the possibility of more to come as rescue workers sift through the debris. I feel bad for the people involved, this one was a little too close to comfort. Just earlier today I had been only seconds away from the blast site with my wife at one of the local shops.

This comes from the Times of Malta report -

Given the number of incidents and deaths around the manufacturing and transporting fireworks in Malta I think it's high time for the re-elected government to start putting some formal procedures in place to monitor this activity. I'm surprised this isn't already governed by EU regulations.