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Ammonia cylinder explodes at ice factory in Rangoon

Rangoon (Mizzima) – An ammonia gas tube exploded at an ice factory in Kamayut Township, Rangoon, last night, an eyewitness said. 

The tube about four inches (10.16 centimetres) wide exploded when a switch on one of the factory’s refrigeration machines turned on at 6:10 p.m. on Thursday. Some people near the factory lost consciousnesses and the noise of the blast caused widespread alarm. 

“We heard a very loud explosion then a plume of white smoke billowed up to the apartments on Insein Road,” a Quarter No. 1 resident said. “People ran as they thought it was a bomb blast … Some people rushed upstairs to their homes.” 

Traffic on Insein Road was in a state of chaos following the event.

“A bus stopped across the road and some people jumped off and ran away … Some lost slippers as they fled and some dropped baskets, lunch boxes, purses and other items,” an eyewitness from Kamayut Township said.

Ammonia, a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen, NH3, is a poisonous, caustic gas at room temperature. It is used as a household, commercial and industrial refrigerant, and is often used in household cleaners and fertilisers. It can damage the eyes, skin, and the tissue under the skin; inhalation or ingestion can damage the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts. 

Ammonium carbonate (smelling salts) has been used since Roman times to raise people who have fainted or been knocked out in boxing matches as small doses stimulate faster breathing. 

People who live near the ice factory said they have on occasion experienced pungent smells coming from building.   

Last Updated ( Friday, 11 June 2010 17:50 )  

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