victim of the explosion at the El Vaquero factory, in Soacha

victim of the explosion at the El Vaquero factory, in Soacha
victim of the explosion at the El Vaquero factory, in Soacha

As if a deadly war had broken out. This is how the workers of the El Vaquero fireworks factory felt when at 4:35 in the afternoon on May 22 a loud explosion in the raw materials warehouse, where the ‘flyers’ were manufactured and the gunpowder was stored, it would destroy everything in its path, expanding a heat wave that sought to incinerate everyone it crossed.

(You may be interested in: The hypotheses behind the tragic explosion in the gunpowder factory in Soacha that left 33 injured and one person dead)

This is how the El Vaquero gunpowder factory was left. One dead and more than 30 injured by the explosion. Factory located in Soacha that distributed all types of pyrotechnic items. The explosion left a lot of glass in the surrounding buildings and houses. The company’s workers were present outside the factory. Bogota May 23, 2024. PHOTO MAURICIO MORENO CEET EL TIEMPO @mauriciomorenofoto

Photo:MAURICIO MORENO THE TIME

After 24 hours since everything shook due to the magnitude of the explosion, the fear of the neighbors is still felt. At the factory gate there are at least 80 people, all employees of ‘El Vaquero’ trying to find out the reasons for what happened, looking for explanations about his injured companions and confirming the death of the, so far, only fatal victim of the conflagration.

(You can also read: Soacha explosion: 21 injured were taken to medical centers and one victim is in critical condition)

A PMU was installed in the area to deal with the emergency and customers stopped leaving El Vaquero to make way for the fire trucks, police patrols, rescue corps, the CTI and the ambulances in the areas. that were taken to the 41 wounded who were dragged to the ground after that fateful afternoon.

But when told from the outside it seems like one more event than what normally happens in Bogotá and the Region. El Vaquero, inside was an entire complex in which tons of explosive materials were stored for the manufacture of pyrotechnics.

This is how the El Vaquero gunpowder factory was left. One dead and more than 30 injured by the explosion. Factory located in Soacha that distributed all types of pyrotechnic items. The explosion left a lot of glass in the surrounding buildings and houses. The company’s workers were present outside the factory. Bogota May 23, 2024. PHOTO MAURICIO MORENO CEET EL TIEMPO @mauriciomorenofoto

Photo:MAURICIO MORENO THE TIME

Its entrance, which is located on the main road of Soacha, unlike the rest of the wineries in the area, is small and from it leads a steep lane of at least a kilometer inwards that leads to a sandy esplanade where there were several aluminum sheds. Some where pyrotechnics were manufactured and others administrative and commercial. To have a reference, it is as if you entered through the narrow part of a funnel to the widest head.

The 150 company employees who were there when the shock wave of the explosion lifted them off the ground and threw them all meters away ran through that same place. The stories of those who were in the warehouse where the fire started are still alive.

“The explosive wave lifted me off the floor twice (…) I only saw dust and my ears were ringing, I didn’t know what was happening. My partner grabbed me by the hair and asked me, “We’re going to die, right?” She told me she couldn’t see anything. In the background we heard many screams and explosions and we did not throw ourselves into the grass., it was like being in a war. “Nobody can imagine what we experienced in there,” said one of the victims of the explosion.

This story seems to have removed the layers of strength from other victims who were also in the at the factory door hoping to have some news about his friends and, above all, what would happen to his job.

Nathaly Niño Núñez, woman who died in an explosion in Soacha.

Photo:Social networks / César Melgarejo. TIME

“My partner grabbed me by the hair and asked me, ‘We’re going to die, right?’ She told me she couldn’t see anything. In the background we heard a lot of screams and explosions and we didn’t throw ourselves on the grass, it was like being in a war.”

Another woman, who was also inside, began to cry “my daughter had told me the day before that if I was bored at work not to come back, that I should go out and look at what I had to experience (…) I was there and I could have left through that dead, burned, ‘scorched’ door.”

While all the employees lined up on the yellow wall that surrounds the factory, there are personnel from the Red Cross, the Soacha Mayor’s Office, Risk Management and Personnel taking a census of those affected.

Others who were not in line enter and leave the tent where they are receiving psychological help and although they seem to be mentally well, when they exchange a couple of words they collapse trying to tell what happened in the middle of the explosion.

“We crawled on the ground, like soldiers, pushing ourselves with our elbows so as not to expose our arms (…) things were flying everywhere, the air we were breathing was hot and we felt like it was burning inside us. It was very dangerous to get up from the ground but every time we advanced a little towards the exit a new explosion sounded, I could not resign myself to being burned to death.“said a worker.

Explosion at the El Vaquero fireworks factory in Soacha.

Photo:César Melgarejo / El Tiempo

At the El Vaquero factory The majority of employees at the production plant are women, in fact, 90 percent of the people still standing in front of the door of the place were workers.

Among them, they took care of each other and helped each other get out, some jumped over the back fence that measures more than two meters, others managed to get out through the main entrance, and a few others, unfortunately, were trapped in the middle of the fireworks watching how their colleagues from Several years ago they lost control and under the pressure of explosions and flames.

Terror is still visible in the eyes of almost all of them. Although they want to enter the factory to check what of all her belongings was saved, You can also notice the nervousness of being in the middle of an explosion again, of reliving the pain of having seen one of your companions die. and another man with his entire body incinerated and having to remember how, crawling through sleep, they managed to get out alive after more than 30 percent of the factory exploded.

“Last night I closed my eyes to try to sleep and the only thing I saw in my mind was the exact moment in which everything exploded (…) I heard the screams of my companions, I saw the flames getting stronger from side to side and I was I saw myself trying not to die… “I couldn’t sleep at all and today I hear any sound and I feel like I have to lie down on the floor.”another employee told him while they assisted him.

Explosion at the El Vaquero fireworks factory in Soacha.

Photo:César Melgarejo / El Tiempo

But the drama was not only inside for those who were trapped, that night outside the factory the relatives of the victims gradually gathered, trying to get a sign of life for their wives, children, brothers and friends. “I crawled out and there was my sister, she was just screaming that I was alive, that I was okay, that something had happened to me and then I broke down.”“I also started to cry because I didn’t believe what was happening to us.”

That afternoon everything seemed to be ready for the tragedy to occur. According to the official report from the authorities, the alarm that was supposed to announce this type of event was not activated, the water tanks they had in reserve for emergencies flew away when the fliers exploded, the area was on rationing day and, apparently, Nothing that was supposed to happen to contain the flames and the blast wave worked.

The feeling that was left in the victims was not only one of terror for what they had to live through, but also of reflection, because as they themselves say, they never imagined that they could be so fragile and be at risk of exploding as the products they themselves produce do.

Explosion at the El Vaquero fireworks factory in Soacha.

Photo:César Melgarejo / El Tiempo

“I crawled out and there was my sister, she was just screaming that he was alive, that I was okay, that something had happened to me and then I broke down, I started crying too because I didn’t believe what was happening to us.”

“How paradoxical it was to be dragged on the floor, burned, seeing our companions who could not get out, knowing that some could die, seeing the flames almost in their faces, and then look up at the sky and see those fireworks flashing like it was a celebration (…) we were dying,” one worker recalled.

And as the owner of the factory, Carlos Carvajal, said, the night of May 22, El Vaquero pyrotechnics was not synonymous with ““pyrotechnics based on the life and safety of people,” as is the organization’s motto.

For now, it is known that 34 of the 41 victims have already been discharged from hospital centers and that at this moment there are seven people in medical centers, three of whom are fighting for their lives in the Intensive Care Unit. one of them intubated, another with burns on more than 90 percent of her body and one more, on whom doctors performed all kinds of procedures to save one of her legs. that you are about to lose.

BOGOTÁ EDITORIAL
TIME

 
For Latest Updates Follow us on Google News
 

-

PREV Locate your box here – North of Ciudad Juárez
NEXT Leopoldo Múnera took office as rector of the National University