American injured in grenade accident at Bulgarian weapons site still in critical condition

The 38-year-old US citizen severely injured in a blast at a military weapons test site near Anevo village in Bulgaria, in an incident in which another American died and three others – two Bulgarians and a Canadian – were injured, remained in critical condition on June 7.

The American, being treated at Sv Georgi University Hospital in Plovdiv, had severe head injuries, part of his right arm had been amputated and doctors were struggling to save his left, according to hospital authorities.

Julia Dillard of the US embassy in Sofia visited the hospital on June 7, media reports said.

In a statement on June 6, the day of the incident, Bulgaria’s Economy Ministry identified the firm that had hired the premises for the test as All Guns.

A report by Bulgarian National Television on June 7 said that the incident had raised a number of questions about the company that had hired the military range.

So far there had been no official comment from the company about the incident. It remained unclear why the old anti-tank grenade was being tested.

Attempts by BNT to contact the registered owner of the company, Alexander Dimitrov, proved unsuccessful.

Trade Register information showed the company as licensed to trade in arms and ammunition. The company had capital of 95 million leva and its most recent published financial statement showed an annual profit of 405 000 leva.

The telephone number of the representative on the website proved to be incorrect.

At the address given for correspondence, another company was found, Alma-D, registered to engage in wholesale trade of waste and scrap. The report noted that Alma-D had become known at the time of the explosions at the Chelopechene plant in 2008, when it was mentioned as one of the companies dealing in scrap from munitions.

Television station bTV said that possible causes of the accident at the VMZ-Sopot plant on June 6 were seen as lack of control and improper handling of munitions.

Bulgaria’s institutions have distanced themselves from the accident, saying that the entities involved in leasing the VMZ-Sopot site were private and had all the documents required for their activities.

Meanwhile, President Rossen Plevneliev said that no distinction should be made between public and private companies in requirements to meet standards for control and handling explosive substances, and if these standards were not met, those responsible should be held accountable.




The Sofia Globe staff

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