7 Hurt When Shell Explodes at Haifa Base

Seven people were injured yesterday after an accidental munitions explosion on board an Israel Navy vessel at the Haifa naval base. One of those injured, a soldier, is in serious condition, and another soldier is in moderate condition. Three other soldiers and two civilians working for the army were slightly injured.

The Israel Defense Forces has launched an investigation into the blast.

Yesterday at 9 A.M., a group of soldiers and civilians were carrying out routine maintenance aboard the missile boat Tarshish when a shell exploded in one of the cannons. The blast was clearly heard in the port area, near the main Palmer Gate, and black smoke could be seen. The soldier who was seriously hurt was struck in the face and chest, and the moderately injured soldier was hit in the stomach.

All the wounded were evacuated to Haifa's nearby Rambam Medical Center, suffering mainly head and face injuries from shrapnel. According to Rambam's director, Prof. Rafi Biar, injuries were also inflicted by shock waves from the blast.

Rambam said most of the injured have been released.

The navy's commander, Major General Eli Marom, who appointed the investigative team, mentioned the incident last evening at the graduation of a naval officers training course at the same base, saying "as a result of a problem now being investigated, there was an explosion in a cannon." The mishap is also to be probed by the military police investigative unit.

The accident was the second of its type in the past six months. In the previous explosion, which also took place on board a missile boat in the Haifa base, a warrant officer was seriously injured.