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Afghanistan: a lethal explosion

27-03-1997 News Release 97/11

In the early morning of 19 March the explosion of an ammunition dump caused panic in the town of Jalalabad some 120 km east of Kabul. The explosion, which occurred in the police headquarters compound, also destroyed about ten nearby buildings.

The members of the ICRC sub-delegation in Jalalabad and volunteers from the local section of the Afghan Red Crescent helped to evacuate the victims, including many civilians. One hundred and four people were admitted to the town's provincial hospital, while 175 with minor injuries received first-aid treatment there. More than 200 volunteers donated blood. On Friday a United Nations mine-clearance team was still busy clearing the scene of any remaining explosives. According to a partial death toll drawn up by the Taliban administration, fifty of the officials there at the time of the explosion were killed. Seventeen deaths were registered at the provincial hospital in Jalalabad.

The ICRC promptly launched an emergency operation to provide material assistance for around 500 people whose homes had been destroyed or damaged. Cooking utensils, fuel and plastic sheeting were distributed to them.

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