ANKARA: Five people were killed in an explosion at a military factory in Ankara’s Elmadag district early on Saturday.
The bodies of the victims have been recovered and judicial and administrative investigations into the cause of the explosion are underway. Vasip Sahin, the governor of Ankara province, said initial investigations suggest the blast was caused by a chemical reaction.
According to the Turkish Ministry of Defense, the explosion occurred in the manufacturing unit of the Machinery and Chemical Industry Corporation (MKE), a subsidiary of the ministry.
Fatal accidents have previously occurred at the factory, which produces rockets and explosives for the defense and interior ministries.
In 2018, Health and Safety Labor Watch (ISIG), a civil watchdog, issued a report about workplace fatalities at the factory after an explosion on May 24 that year left one worker dead and six others injured. The official investigation blamed the explosion on a technical fault, ruling out sabotage. ISIG criticized the factory for not having sufficient workplace security measures in place.
On May 20, 2013, an explosion at the factory left two workers dead.
Petrol-Is, Turkiye’s petroleum, chemical and rubber workers union, has long demanded improved working conditions at the same factory. Workers staged a three-day strike in November 2012 to draw the government’s attention to the situation.
In July 2013, Petrol-Is claimed there were serious issues with the factory, that its technological infrastructure had not been modernized, and that more explosions could occur. Work at the factory was temporarily halted at that time so improvements could be made.