An explosion at the Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM)’s Somerset West plant in South Africa on the afternoon of Monday, Sept. 3 claimed the lives of eight people.
The blast reportedly occurred at one of the plant’s 400 buildings. Experts say that blast walls surrounding the N16 unit have been completely destroyed and the building collapsed.
Cape Town metro Fire and Rescue Services said it responded to RDM at 3:45 pm on Monday. A spokesman was quoted as saying “an explosion occurred and personnel were in the process of extinguishing the subsequent fire”.
Expert officials are already working to determine the cause of this incident and the extent of the damage.
Rheinmetall Group said in a statement that they are unable to comment or provide further details as long as the investigation is still underway. The company said that stringent safety regulations for handling explosives are in force at all of the company’s locations, which are subject to strict, regular monitoring.
Rheinmetall Denel Munition is a joint venture company owned by Germany’s Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH (51%) and South Africa’s Denel (Pty) Ltd.
RDM specializes in the development, design and manufacture of large- and medium-calibre ammunition families and is a world leader in the field of artillery, mortar and infantry systems as well as plant engineering.
Somerset West is one of five Rheinmetall Denel Munition plants in South Africa. The company’s 600 employees in Somerset West primarily produce ammunition in various calibres for military and civil applications.