Explosion in Bulgarian Munition Disposal Factory Kills 15

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On 1 October 2014, an explosion rocked the Midzhur munitions-disposal factory 120 km (75 miles) north of Sofia, Bulgaria, leaving nothing but smoking craters where the factory once stood.1 Secondary explosions continued throughout the night destroying the factory that dismantles stockpiles of obsolete munitions for the Bulgarian army.1 A total of 15 workers were killed and three were wounded.2 The Midzhur factory also had incidents in 2007 and 2010.3 In 2008, a series of explosions at an arms depot outside of Sofia resulted in seismic activity measuring 3.2 on the Richter scale. In 2012, three people were killed after an explosion at a disposal facility near Sliven.3

Small Arms Survey, a research group in Geneva, Switzerland, found that the number of incidental munitions-depot explosions has risen significantly in the last 35 years.4 It discovered that accidental explosions have been reported at a rate of 26.8 incidents per year since 2010, up significantly since 4.3 incidents were reported per year during the 1980s.4 Contributing to the rise in incidents are stockpiles of weapons procured and deployed during the Cold War. The obsolete munitions are becoming unstable and handling the weapons leads to a higher occurrence of accidents. As a result, the international community has increased support for managing and disposing of these explosive devices. c

~ Patrick Shea, CISR staff

Contact Information

Center for International Stabilization & Recovery
James Madison University
800 S. Main Street, MSC 1028
Harrisonburg, VA 22807 / USA
Tel: +1 540 568 2718
Email: cisr@jmu.edu



  1. “Bulgaria explosives factory blast kills 15.” BBC Europe. 2 October 2014. http://bbc.in/1vAhWk3.
  2. “Future of 38 Midzhur Plant Workers Uncertain after Blast Prompts Layoffs.” Sofia News Agency. 12 October 2014. Accessed 11 November 2014. http://bit.ly/1xInnxn
  3. “After Deadly Blast, Bulgaria Asks if Arms Disposal Is Worth It.” The New York Times. 2 October 2014. http://nyti.ms/1yDGfkM.
  4. “Unplanned Explosions at Munition Sites.” Small Arms Survey. Last updated 16 June 2014. http://bit.ly/1Dc5SZv