The Economist, Sep 29th 2012
[Video from Congo-Brazzaville where explosions at an ammo dump ultimately killed 250 people in March]
TAKING stock of an ammunition depot can be a deadly task. Earlier this month it led to an explosion at a weapons storeroom near the Turkish town of Afyonkarahisar, killing 25 soldiers. Such blasts are frequent—and deadly. They have killed 4,600 people since global record-keeping started in 1995. Last year was the worst yet, with 442 victims from 46 explosions. One of the biggest ever happened in March this year: an accident in Congo-Brazzaville that killed 250, showering munitions over a two-mile radius.
Thousands of ill-run weapons stores are in restless parts of Africa and the Middle East, often near towns or cities. The end of the cold war left unneeded weapons all over the Soviet empire. Moldova spends a quarter of its defence budget guarding obsolete munitions. Ukraine alone has half a million tonnes.
For more information on ammo dump explosions, visit the Small Arms Survey here. And check out the work of the Mines Advisory Group, one of several organisations trying to convince countries to sort out their ammo depots. They had warned Congo-Brazzaville about their depots prior to the explosions that killed 250 people earlier this year.