Two died in blast at Israeli military plant

TEL AVIV (Reuter) - A huge blast in an ammunition bunker at a heavily guarded Israeli military plant yesterday killed two people, wounded 40 and unleashed shockwaves that caused nearby homes to collapse. One witness said the blast at an Israel Military Industries (IMI) defence plant in Nof Yam, 12 miles from Tel Aviv, looked like a 'little Hiroshima', sending a mushroom-shaped cloud of white smoke hundreds of feet into the air. Another said she thought Iraq had launched a Scud missile attack as it did during the Gulf war. The main highway taking rush-hour commuters from affluent suburbs to Tel Aviv was closed, snarling traffic.

There was no immediate word on the cause of the blast, the second at an IMI munitions factory in just over a month. Firefighters said ammunition in the underground bunker ignited. Israel Radio said the blast happened during an experiment. It did not elaborate. 'According to our checks, there was an explosion here. The source was a bunker of ammunition in a plant,' said Shlomo Cohen, commander of firefighters at the scene.

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