Grieving families to be updated on Denel explosion

Emergency vehicles drive into the Rheinmetall Denel munitions facility in Macassar, about 45km from the centre of Cape Town, after an explosion at the facility killed at least 8 people and injured more.
Emergency vehicles drive into the Rheinmetall Denel munitions facility in Macassar, about 45km from the centre of Cape Town, after an explosion at the facility killed at least 8 people and injured more.
Image: RODGER BOSCH / AFP

Families who lost loved ones in an explosion that destroyed a building at Rheinmetall Denel Munition in Macassar‚ Cape Town‚ will be given a detailed update on Thursday about the deadly blast.

The bodies were recovered on Tuesday from the building‚ one of 400 at the munitions complex. "There is nothing more important right now than providing utmost support and care for the families involved in this heartbreaking incident‚" said Norbert Schulze‚ CEO of the company.

The company said in a statement that the product involved in the incident was an “ignition propellant” consisting of more than 95% nitrocellulose‚ commonly known as gun-cotton.

“It is used as an ignition material for ammunition charge systems. The combustion products of this material consist of carbon dioxide (34%)‚ water (13%)‚ nitrogen (13%) and carbon monoxide (38%)‚ as well as hydrogen (1%) and methane (1%). The smoke cloud resulting from the explosion thus did not constitute any health risk to the employees and surrounding communities‚” said the company.

The charges manufactured in Macassar are mixed according to the needs of clients – armies that include the US‚ Europe‚ Asia‚ South America and South Africa‚ Times Select reported on Wednesday.

Schulze told Times Select that South Africa was the leader in artillery ammunition production‚ and the facility produced shells that could hit a target 70km away. In contrast‚ the best US technology could manage only 35km.

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