Firework Disaster Enschede 13 May 2000


S.E. Fireworks, a company that stores fireworks articles, is located in the middle of the working class housing estate of Mekkelholt in the northern Dutch city of Enschede. On 13 May 2000, two explosions in a fireworks warehouse detonated on estimated 100 tonnes of explosives. The blast was felt up to 30 kilometers away. Within minutes the surrounding residential quarter was devasted. Some 400 apartments were reduced to cinders, another 1000 were damaged. The resulting fires are also said to have caused the release of hazardous asbestos. After the explosion 22 people (4 firefighters) were found dead, 947 were injured, many of them seriously.

According to media reports, the directors of the factory are suspected of producing highly hazardous fireworks without the necessary authorisation and illegally storing material on the premises. The operating permit related only to the storage and assembly, not to the production of fireworks articles.

The victims of the tragedy will receive DEM 6.6 million in immediate relief from the National Disaster Fund of the Netherlands.

Cologne Re estimates that the explosion caused NLG 500 million in insured losses. This sum comprises the cost of reconstructing the devasted buildings, medical treatment for the injured and business interruptions at the Grolsch brewery.

It is the worst accident in Europe with off-site consequences for over 50 years!




Size of the disaster area 40 ha
Number of inhabitants in most affected zone 4'163
Number of completely destroyed houses 293
Number of completely destroyed business and industrial buildings ± 50
Number of damaged houses outside mostly affected zone 1'500
Number of persons killed 22 (4 firefighters)
Number of persons injured 947
Number of homeless persons 250
Number of persons that had to be evacuated ± 10'000
Total material damage 1 billion guilders




In pictures: Firework blaze

A massive explosion in a firework factory brought death and destruction to the Dutch town of Enschede. 13.5.2000



Pictures of the Firework Disaster Enschede 13 May 2000

(Date of the most recent images: 18. August 2000).



Dutch Fireworks Disaster

At least 20 people have been killed and about 300 injured in an explosion which destroyed a Dutch fireworks warehouse. 14.5.2000



Asbestos scare after fireworks blaze

The Dutch Government has warned that potentially harmful asbestos has been released into the air by the fatal explosions on Saturday. 14.5.2000



Inquiry into firework blast

The authorities in the Dutch town of Enschede have promised a full independent investigation into Saturday's explosion at a fireworks' warehouse which killed at least 20 people. Forensic teams are searching the ruins for more bodies and evidence of the causes of the fire. 15.5.2000



Search grim after Dutch fireworks blast (with Video: CNN's Patricia Kelly reports on the aftermath of the enormous explosion of a fireworks warehouse in the Netherlands) 15.5.2000



Firework disaster: Could it happen in the UK?

The National Campaign for Firework Reform says the deregulation of fireworks in the last decade means individuals can store tons of explosives in private dwellings, and the laws need to be tightened up.

But firework manufacturers and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) say the regulations on the storage of fireworks are already very tight, and they are confident that under the current legislation, a similar disaster would not happen in the UK. 15.5.2000



Enschede Inferno could have been avoided

The blast has triggered a furious debate in The Netherlands about the safety of fireworks storage. Lucas Reijnders is an environmental expert, who has conducted research into how incendiary devices are stored in China, the world’s biggest exporter of fireworks. Newsline's current affairs producer Robert Chesal asked him what The Netherlands can learn from China. 16.5.2000



Netherlands fireworks factory explosion — the downside of the Dutch social model
31 May 2000



The Enschede Fireworks Inferno, a Year on

This weekend, The Netherlands is commemorating last year's fireworks inferno in Enschede…

A year later, the area is still a 700,000 squaremeter wasteland littered with debris, twisted metal and concrete slabs. The area is fenced off because the danger of asbestos poisoning and there's an eerie silence…

Mr Kodde, fireworks specialist at The Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research, explains that the assumption was that only consumer fireworks was stored at the Enschede factory. "These fireworks require a distance of 20 metres to inhabited buildings. This is based on statistics about heat radiation. Professional fireworks need to be hundreds of metres away from residential areas. Even when only small amounts are stored, debris could land some 300 meters away, so then you need at least 400 meters."

In the wake of the Enschede disaster, the Dutch government drafted new guidelines for fireworks storage. Now, the distance to inhabited areas must be 800 meters and a maximum amount of 6000 kilos of fireworks may be stored. 11.5.2001



22 fireworks deaths: killer jailed

A former kick-boxer had to be restrained by Dutch court officials after being sentenced to 15 years for a series of firework explosions that killed 22 people.

The owners of S.E. Fireworks, Rudi Bakker and Wilhelm Pater, were convicted in April of importing and selling illegal fireworks, breaking safety codes and violating storage licenses.

They were cleared of the more serious charge of criminal negligence. Both were given six-month sentences and fined.

The court also said Enschede authorities had made a serious error by issuing the owners permits to store fireworks in a residential neighbourhood. 22.8.2002



Final Report/Final Consideration

Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations

(Introduction/SE Fireworks; the government; the disaster/Combatting the Disaster, and Health Care/Practical Assistance)


The whole Report under



Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, April 2001, "Definitive results Health Inquiry Firework disaster enschede (May-June 2000),



Health Monitoring Victims Enschede Firework Disaster, Carried out by the Institute for Psychotrauma and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, by order of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports "But the consequences are still being felt - Signs of recovery. Summary of the second health inquiry on the Enschede Firework Disaster (November/December 2001)"



Health Monitoring Victims Enschede Firework Disaster "Recovery among rescue workers - Long-term symptoms among groups of residents. Summary of the third health inquiry on the Enschede Firework Disaster (January/March 2004)", carried out by the Institute for Psychotrauma and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, by order of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports, 



We would like to point out that after the firework disaster of Enschede several studies have been made as e.g.

-          RIVM Projectteam Gezondeheidsonderzoek Vuurwerkramp Enschede "Fireworks disaster Enschede: Measurements of elements in blood and urine; health impact assessment"(01-04-2001)

-          Grievink L. "Physical health and its determinants in victims and relief workers of the firework disaster after 18 months" (06-01-2002)

-          Dorresteijn S, van der Velden PG, Kleber RJ et al "Traumatic stress and mental health in children and family functioning after the firework explosion" (25-05-2003)

-          Yzermans J "Monitoring health status following a major firework factory explosion" (25-05-2003)

-          Grievink L, van den Berg B, Lebret E "Determinants of medically unexplained symptoms in victims of the Enschede firework disaster"

You can find a list of more published abstracts, articles and scientific reports under (Gezondheids-Monitoring Getroffenen Vuurwerkramp Enschede/Health services research after the Enschede Firework explosion).



Scapegoat jailed for fireworks blast wins payout

Andre de Vries (falsely convicted of the Enschede fireworks disaster that killed 22 people on 13.5.2000) had demanded 1 million Euro in compensation, but Arnhem Appeals court ruled that he should be awarded just one eighth of that amont, 125'000 Euro. The court ruled that De Vries was partly to blame for the extended period he remained in remand custody. It found that the former Enschede resident had worked against the investigation and gave demonstrable false statements. 3.5.2004



Enschede remembers deadly fireworks disaster

The eastern Dutch city Enschede held a special ceremony to commemorate the catastrophe four years ago to the day when a blast at a fireworks storage facility killed 22 people and destroyed an entire neighbourhood. Mayor Jan Mans led a silent procession through the Roombeek district. All church bells in the city rang for five minutes and then Mayor Mans read a poem "Enschede huilt" (Enschede cries), which was written by Willem Wilmink. 13.5.2004



Disaster Prevention in Urban Environments

Henk Voogd

European Journal of Spatial Development, Sept 2004 no 12

Abstract: Disasters always have very undesirable consequences, especially when they occur in urban environments. This paper discusses some problems with regard to disaster prevention policy in the Netherlands. This policy was put to the test in May 2000, when a devastating fireworks accident in the Dutch town Enschede took place, destroying a significant part of the built environment of this town, with an investigation by an independent evaluation committee painfully highlighting the failure of the local and national authorities' preventative policies. The Enschede disaster stimulated many new activities at various levels of government with regard to the need to improve disaster prevention and control….

Ganzer Artikel unter



City commemorates deadly fireworks blast 5 years ago 

Enschede is commemorating the five-year anniversary of the massive fireworks explosion that ripped through a residential district killing 22 people. The theme of Friday's anniversary is 'commemoration in passing', expressing the idea that despite construction work on a new residential area, the disaster will never be forgotten. A silent march has been organised through the under-construction residential district of Roombbek, where the SE Fireworks warehouse exploded on 13 May 2000. 




van Kamp I, van der Velden PG, Stellato RK et al.

Physical and mental health shortly after a disaster: first results from the Enschede firework disaster study

European Journal of Public Health. 2005;16(3):252-58

Objectives: Two to three weeks after the explosion of a fireworks storage facility in a residential area (May 2000, Enschede, The Netherlands) we assessed the self-reported physical and mental health among those affected by the disaster.

Conclusions: Results indicate that the fireworks disaster had a substantial impact on the health of those affected by the disaster. The health impact was most pronounced for residents and passers-by and also for rescue workers living in the affected area, but to a lesser degree. Physical and mental health problems were strongly associated with the shocking experiences during and shortly after the disaster.

Abstract and article (free) under ; free full text (PDF) under



Enschede victims' group disbands

The lobby group representing the victims of the Enschede fireworks disaster has disbanded. A majority of the handful of people present at a meeting on Monday voted in favour of the decision.

Volunteers will continue to staff a helpline for people who need assistance arising out of the explosion at a fireworks depot in May 2000. 26.9.2005



Right to compensation

Amsterdam. More than 200 victims of the Enschede fireworks disaster in May 2000 have a right to compensation, a court in The Hague ruled.

The court ruled that the fireworks deport S.E. Fireworks and three partners were liable for the disaster. The Enschede City Council and the Dutch State do not have to pay damages. In total, 295 people had joined the civil procedure, but the court ruled that only 215 were actual victims of the 13 May 2000 fireworks explosion.

Source: "Damages for firework victims", 13.12.2006,



€8.5m paid to Enschede fireworks victims

A total of €8.5m in compensation has been distributed to the victims of the Enschede firework factory explosion, seven years after the diaster. The organisation in charge of distributing the compensation, the UPV, has 300 people cash for incurring extra costs, 136 people money for loss of income, and 1,477 people compensation for health problems.

Source: "€8.5m paid to Enschede fireworks victims", 19.9.2007,





You can find a lot of interesting articles in German about Enschede under