Toulouse chemical factory explosion
The ruined factories.
|Date||21 September 2001|
|Survivors||2,500+"+" can not be assigned to a declared number type with value 2500.|
|Description||One of the most serious explosions involving ammonium nitrate|
The Toulouse chemical factory explosion was a massive disaster in France ten days after 9-11. An explosion occurred at the AZF (French initialism for AZote Fertilisant, i.e. nitrogen fertiliser) fertiliser factory in Toulouse, France. It caused considerable damage to the buildings in the south-west of the Toulouse metropolitan area. This was followed by gentrification of the city. There is still controversy over the exact number of explosions, but dozens were killed, and thousands were injured, with 1.5 billion euros being paid out in damages.
Three hundred tonnes of ammonium nitrate was stored in a hangar, well under capacity. When it exploded, the entire factory was destroyed, making a crater with a depth of about 7 metres and a diameter of 40 metres. Steel girders were found 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) away from the explosion. The blast measured 3.4 on the Richter scale, with an estimated power equivalent to 20-40 tons of TNT. The explosion was heard 80 km (50 miles) away. Due to the acoustics of the surrounding hills and the large sound, the explosion was reported as occurring in multiple places. Police at first believed that at least five bombs had simultaneously gone off.
A temporary worker found dead near the blast crater was wearing several underwear - five briefs and underpants stacked on top of each other; something common among Islamist suicide bombers. A controversial note from General Intelligence indicated that the worker had just been recruited by an Islamist group in Toulouse. On 4 October 2001, Environment Minister Yves Cochet announced that the explosion "may have been a terrorist attack" and identified Hassan Jandoubi, a plant sub-contractor killed in the blast, as a person under investigation. French anti-terrorist authorities were prohibited by the Toulouse prosecutor from searching Jandoubi's house for five days after the incident. Police declared that Jandoubi had "possible Islamic fundamentalist sympathies," yet by the time the search was finally conducted, they said that Jandoubi's girlfriend had disposed of all traces of his clothes and photos. Authorities described the delay as damaging to the investigation. Another theory involved the idea that the fertilizer factory did not cause the explosion, instead it was an adjacent factory owned by SNPE which produced fuels for rockets and missiles.
Other theories involved a meteorite striking the warehouse.
Mishandling of sodium dichloroisocyanurate and ammonium nitrate caused a reaction which exploded the ammonium nitrate stockpile