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13 Dead, 200 Missing in Blast at Argentine Munitions Factory

November 05, 1995| From Reuters

BUENOS AIRES — About 200 people were unaccounted for Saturday a day after a blast at an arms factory in central Argentina showered a town with shrapnel and bombs, killing at least 13 and injuring about 330.

"There are some 200 people that came to us and to the municipality looking for another 200 people," police commissioner Diego Guillen told the local DyN news agency.

About 200 people were working in the factory when the blast occurred Friday, but it was unclear how many, if any, of those were among the missing.

Police Commissioner Carlos Ghigi said that by Saturday afternoon the official toll was 13 dead.

Officials do not rule out finding more victims when they finally manage to get into the arms factory near Rio Tercero, about 60 miles south of the central city of Cordoba.

Intense heat and bombs still exploding inside the plant made it impossible for rescue workers to get into the factory.

"We still don't know if we will be able to enter [the plant] within the next 24 to 48 hours," regional army chief Gen. Mario Groba told reporters.

Explosions intensified by late Saturday afternoon, and many Rio Tercero residents who had returned to their homes were evacuated again to safer, more distant quarters of the town.

The government said the explosion was caused by a worker who accidentally triggered a mortar shell.

Residents said many of those missing could be among the 10,000 people who fled the town after the first blast or among the hundreds taken to nearby hospitals for treatment.

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