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Blast at French bell foundry injures 46

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-07-31

An explosion at a French bell foundry in Normandy has injured 46 people, all of whom were guests invited to watch the casting of a church bell. Most only suffered minor burns and smoke inhalation but one person has serious burns.

AFP - Forty-six people invited to watch a special casting of a church bell at a foundry in northern France were injured on Friday when an explosion showered them with molten bronze.

Most of the guests suffered from minor burns and smoke inhalation but six were rushed to hospital following the blast at the Cornille-Havard foundry in the Normandy town of Villedieu-les-Poele, firefighters said.

One person suffered serious burns and was flown by emergency helicopter to a hospital in Nantes.

Police said the explosion was caused by the ignition of a dust cloud.

"This explosion caused fumes and melted bronze to be projected on the visitors," said an official from the local gendarmerie.

The visitors had been invited to watch the smelting works of a 6.3-tonne bell for a church in Mulhouse, eastern France, when the blast occurred around midday, said the foundry's director Paul Bergamo.

"The mould of the bell shot up and there were fumes and bronze emissions," said Bergamo.

Several ambulances and some 60 rescuers were dispatched to the foundry located in the town centre to deal with the emergency at the height of the holiday season.

One of the few remaining bell-manufacturing foundries in the world, the Cornille-Havard factory often organises public demonstrations at its smelters for tourists and clients.

The foundry, which employs 18 people and specialises in manufacturing one-of-kind pieces, was shut down for the remainder of the day, said Bergamo.

Date created : 2009-07-31

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