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2008 Press Releases

U.S. Embassy Statement on Gërdec Explosions

March 17, 2008

The U.S. Embassy first takes the opportunity to extend its sincere condolences and support to the Albanian people, especially the victims, their families, and those who have been affected directly by Saturday’s tragedy in Gërdec.  Our hearts and sympathy are with you.

The U.S. Embassy has provided or coordinated the following assistance since the explosions occurred:

  • Within three hours of the explosion, the Embassy provided $1,000 of needed medical supplies to Albania’s military hospital trauma center, purchased through USAID funding.      
  • American crisis management experts with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Navy are consulting closely with the Ministry of Interior Crisis Management Center
  • A ten-person team of retired US Army Special Forces personnel with extensive experience in EOD/demolitions and emergency medical and operational support provided assistance to the MoD at the explosion site, assisting to establish the Operations Center, media center and field hospital and helping to coordinate the operations on location. 
  • The European Command has tasked its naval component to send an assessment team consisting of highly-trained experts in weapons destruction to determine what additional assets may be provided.
  • We are exploring with the Government of Albania what additional assistance may be needed and will seek to provide additional assistance as requested.

We note that some news agencies have mistakenly reported that a U.S. Government-sponsored munitions disposal project was underway at the depot that suffered several explosions on March 15.  We would like to clarify that the U.S. Government has not assisted the Ministry of Defense with munitions disposal at that particular storage facility.  Although the U.S. Government has partnered successfully with the Albanian Government on several munitions disposal projects previously, there are currently no such joint projects underway in Albania.  We understand from a March 15 government statement that the GOA had contracted with a private American company, Southern Ammunition Company, Inc. (SACI) of South Carolina, to assist with munitions disassembly at the depot.  The contract is not sponsored by the U.S. Government.

We wish to reiterate our concern and sympathies for all those affected
by this tragic incident.