A series of massive explosions rocked the city of Zarqa in Jordan early on Friday due to an electric short circuit at an army munitions depot.
A government spokesman, Amjad Adaileh, said that the blasts occurred in a warehouse in the al-Ghabawi area of Zarqa, which is located northeast of the capital Amman, and contained a number of unused bombs. He explained that the depot is located in an isolated area far from any settlements, adding there were no immediate reports of casualties. Latest up-to-the-minute reports say two people have been killed, however.
Huge orange flames lit the desert night sky and could be seen as far away as the capital Amman, 35 km (22 miles) to the southwest. “We felt like an earthquake had struck. Our windows shook and the glass shattered. My kids started crying,” said Zarqa resident Nabila Issa, a housewife and mother of five children. Witnesses also described the blast as appearing to be “something chemical”.
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It was also reported that security forces were trying to extinguish the raging fires that broke out after the explosion, however, such was the intensity of the flames extra fire crews from a nearby town had to be bought in to control the blaze.
The desert area where the explosions took place houses several major U.S.-equipped army bases including an airfield constructed in 2018. Jordan’s location makes it an ideal logistics and supply hub for the United States, including for the U.S. military’s garrison at Tanf in southeastern Syria.
A source in Jordan revealed to a local resident that the mortars stored at the facility were old and not usable but an army source said on condition of anonymity that some of the weapons at the site were precision-guided anti-aircraft missiles. The army command declined to comment on the cause of the explosions, saying it was under investigation.