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15 July 2024

Blasts wound more than 150 at Albania army base

By Agencies

More than 150 people were wounded by several explosions at an Albanian army base on the outskirts of the capital Tirana, officials said on Saturday.

Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha said the blasts probably took place while ammunition was being dismantled.

"The explosions are continuing. We have sent helicopters ... to evacuate nearby residents. It is a problem because the highway is blocked," Berisha said on Albanian television.

The wounded were taken to nearby hospitals. Local media reports said most had suffered burns, concussions, broken limbs, or were hurt by flying glass and shrapnel.

"Terrified people are leaving the area on foot along the highway, women and children," said a Reuters cameraman on the scene. "Cars with broken windows have been abandoned on the highway."

The explosions were so powerful they were felt in Tirana and the seaside resort of Durres, some 20km from the base.

Arlinda Causholli, a spokeswoman for Tirana Airport, said windows and glass doors were shattered at the airport, a few miles away from the base.

"We evacuated passengers from the affected area and suspended flights for around 30 minutes," Causholli told Reuters. Flights have since resumed.

Albania is looking to dismantle its obsolete stalinist-era arsenal and revamp its army in a bid to receive an invitation to join Nato. (Reuters)