Dairy factory bombing kills 29 in Hodeida

Published on 1 April 2015 in News
Bassam Al-Khameri (author)

Bassam Al-Khameri

Hundreds of nightshift workers were in the factory at the time it was bombed, causing the high number of casualties. (Photo credit: @hafezbukari)

Hundreds of nightshift workers were in the factory at the time it was bombed, causing the high number of casualties. (Photo credit: @hafezbukari)

SANA’A, March 31—Investigations are ongoing to identify the source of an explosion at a dairy factory in Hodeida governorate early Wednesday that killed 29 employees and injured 25.

A source in the Hodeida Security Department, speaking to the Yemen Times on condition of anonymity, said investigations are at an early phase and remained inconclusive as of Wednesday afternoon.

“Warplanes from the Saudi-led bombing campaign have only targeted military installations, but civilians are known to have been hit, as happened near Sana’a International Airport on the first day of airstrikes, so anything is possible,” the source said. “Everything will become clear as investigations proceed, there is a difference between shells from warplanes and tanks.”

The number of civilians killed in the blast rose from 25 in the morning as several employees suffered life-threatening injuries and could not be saved. Abdulrahman Jar Allah, director of the Ministry of Public Health and Population’s office in Hodeida, confirmed the number of casualties and said 18 of the survivors were seriously injured.

According to Basim Al-Jenani, a freelance journalist based in Hodeida, the explosion occurred at about 12 a.m. while hundreds of nightshift employees were inside the factory. He said investigations have been hampered by heavy bombing in the area by Saudi-led forces under Operation Decisive Storm.

“It is difficult to verify information because the factory is in the Kilo Seven Area, one kilometer from the Coastal Defense Camp and about 300 meters from the Hodeida Airbase, and it is also near the 67th and 33rd Air Brigade camps,” all of which have been under attack since Tuesday.

The factory is owned by Thabet Brothers Group and employs about 3,000 workers.

Mohammed Al-Bukhaiti, a member of the Houthi Political Office in Sana’a, denied his group’s involvement and said forces fighting on their behalf were incapable of causing the level of damage seen at the factory.

“We use anti-aircraft weapons to prevent these airstrikes and everyone knows that Saudi-led warplanes target these facilities. The administration of the factory has said they were targeted by an air raid, not shelled by a tank as people have claimed,” he said.

A source in Thabet Brothers Group’s marketing department, speaking Wednesday evening on condition of anonymity, said the company’s board of directors have refused to comment or release any information on the matter, but that a press statement will soon be made.