‘Negligence’ Cited as Deadly Explosion Rocks Mongla

By Nyein Nyein & Kyaw Kha 9 May 2016

An explosion at a National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) munitions warehouse in Shan State’s Mongla, along the Sino-Burmese border, killed two people and injured six others on Saturday morning, according to the non-state armed group, but locals speculate that the casualties could be significantly higher.

The explosion happened at Border Post 218, more than 50 miles away from the closest Chinese border town, Daluo, said Kyi Maung, a spokesman for the NDAA. He said the six injured people had been sent to a Mongla hospital for treatment.

The explosion, which should not have happened, was due to his men’s carelessness, Kyi Maung added.

“[The warehouse] is where we store munitions used for mining and road construction,” he said. “In addition to our negligence, the weather was hot and the blast was strong. It greatly affected us and our neighbors.”

Some Mongla residents told The Irrawaddy they estimated about 10 people had died and nearly 40 were wounded. On top of the injuries, nearby houses, hotels and restaurants were damaged.

One Mongla resident described the explosion as massive, an assertion seemingly corroborated by photos of a large plume of smoke rising from the blast site.

“Glass windows in houses one mile away shattered because of the shaking,” he said, adding that many people died because of the explosion, but outsiders had not been able to go to the area since it is controlled by NDAA troops.

The NDAA said it would investigate the explosion and action would be taken, because on top of the damages and injuries suffered, rations for the troops were also lost.

Kyi Maung said China had offered some relief because a few Chinese tourists were among the injured. Chinese tourists frequent the town, long known as a haven for gambling, animal trafficking and prostitution, and he estimated that about 3,000 Chinese visitors were there on Saturday at the time of the explosion.

The NDAA is a non-state armed group that split from Burma’s Communist Party in 1989. It was granted a self-administered zone in eastern Shan State under the 2008 Constitution. The group signed a bilateral ceasefire agreement with the previous government in 2011, but is not a signatory to the so-called nationwide ceasefire agreement.