Explosion at match factory kills six

  • 2001-12-20
  • Jorgen Johansson
RIGA - Six people were killed and four injured in an explosion at Riga's partly German-owned Kometa safety-match factory Dec. 14.

The explosion took place where the labels are affixed to the match boxes. Nine people were in the room at the time of the explosion.

"In the area where the explosion took place, there is not supposed to be any fire at all since there is so much flammable material present," state police spokesman Krists Leiskalns said.

Leiskalns added that no criminal investigation has started as of yet, but police are working on a cause for the explosion.

Later in the evening police decided to open a criminal case over the destruction of property by negligence resulting in death. This sort of case could bring a three-year jail term.

Solvega Smiltene, spokeswoman for the fire and rescue service, told The Baltic Times that the first call concerning the fire came at 12:28 p.m., and the response time was less than 10 minutes.

"It took only 20 minutes to confine the fire to a 50 square meter area, but the fire could not be put out until 2:00 p.m.," the spokeswoman said.

The injured were taken to the National Burns Treatment Hospital in Riga. Three of them are still in critical condition.

By output, Kometa is the largest safety-match producer in the Baltics, and their matches are sold in 15 countries around the world.