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Image: Enschede Fireworks Disaster
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since Mar 14, 2007
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The Enschede fireworks disaster, called Vuurwerkramp (Dutch: literally, "fireworks disaster"), was caused by a fire which broke out in the SE Fireworks depôt on May 13, 2000 in the eastern Dutch city of Enschede. The fire led to an enormous explosion that left 23 people dead (including four firemen) and 947 injured.[1] The biggest blast was heard as far as 60 kilometres from the scene. About 2000 homes were damaged or destroyed, leaving 1250 people homeless. The extent of the damage was estimated at half a billion euros.

The cause of the fire has never been officially verified. One possibility was arson, with several arrests being made by the Dutch police but the fire department stated an electrical short circuit could not be totally ruled out.[citation needed]

In April 2002, the two managers of the company, Rudi Bakker and Willie Pater, were sentenced to fifteen months' imprisonment for violation of environmental and safety regulations and dealing in illegal fireworks. Furthermore they were found guilty of an explosion with deadly consequences because of neglect. In May 2002, André de V., who was accused of the arson, was sentenced to fifteen years' imprisonment but this decision was later overruled by a higher court and he was acquitted.