Out-of-date mortar ammunition was the source of a huge blast at a Jordanian military installation on Friday, officials have revealed.
The early morning explosion at the remote mountain depot outside the industrial city of Zarqa was reportedly heard 30 km away.
A Jordanian military spokesman told the official news agency Petra that the blast happened in an area that was uninhibited. There were no reports of any injuries.
“The explosion took place in the Tafeh area due to outdated mortars that were being dismantled in an area void of any population,” he said.
Maamoun Abu Nuwwar, a retired two-star air force general, told Arab News that the Jordanian army had acted quickly to close off the area.
Retired Maj. Gen. Imad Mayyah, who in the past has supervised the dismantling of landmines, said the mortars had been stored correctly. “It is known that they should be stored underground or deep in mountain areas far away from populated areas.”
Mayyah added that high temperatures could have contributed to the detonation and called for immediate safety checks to be carried out on other items of stored ordnance.
Amjad Adaileh, the Jordanian minister of media affairs, had originally said the explosion had been caused by an electrical fault but later on Friday official army spokesman, Talal Al-Ghaban, told Al-Mamlaka TV that there had been no electricity supply to the warehouse where the blast took place.
While the incident attracted live international media coverage, Jordan’s TV stations were criticized for not running real-time images of the fire.
Nidal Mansour, founder of the Center for Defending Freedom of Journalists, told Arab News that reporters had a responsibility to keep the public informed.
“The media should not be silent and must report what they are sure of. The government must give an initial report of what happened. They can say an explosion occurred without having known the cause of it,” Mansour said.
Source: Arab News