TWO FIRE fighters and a plant operator died last week when explosives stored on a road tunnel construction site in Norway caught fire and blew up.
Thirteen others were injured by the explosion, which happened near the entrance of the 2.4km Bragernes tunnel under Drammen harbour.
The blast is believed to have been set off by a fire which started when welding sparks ignited insulation material in the ventilation system and spread to explosives stored near the tunnel entrance.
Police and fire fighters were called to the site at around 4pm last Tuesday. Some were in the tunnel when the explosion occurred. Others had gathered at the entrance with construction workers.
Blasting work in the tunnel had stopped three hours before the fire broke out. Workers caught in the blaze and subsequent explosion were using wheeled loaders to remove rubble from inside the tunnel at the time.
Construction work on the single bore, two-lane road tunnel began in June. At the time of the explosion about 200m had been completed using drill and blast tunnelling methods. The 2.4km tunnel forms part of a ring road around Drammen, 50km south of Oslo.
Work on the project has been suspended while a police investigation is carried out.