Six workers were killed in the explosion on the Frigosia. / SUR

5 August 1980: Shipyard gas explosion kills six workers in Seville

The incident occurred when a gas pocket in the hold of a 4,000-tonne freezer ship exploded

Tony Bryant
TONY BRYANT

Six workers were killed and another seriously injured following an explosion at the Astilleros Españoles de Sevilla warehouse in the docks of Seville on Tuesday 5 August 1980. The incident occurred at around midday when a gas pocket that had formed in the hold of a 4,000-tonne freezer ship exploded due to malpractice by one of the workers.

Rescue procedures were hindered by the intense black smoke that resulted from the blast, although the six men are thought to have been killed outright in the explosion.

The emergency services were unable to enter the hold to remove the six bodies until the following day due to the presence of toxic gasses.

Negligence

At the time of the catastrophe, the ship, Frigosia, was undergoing work in a warehouse in the docks. The gas is believed to have leaked from the cylinders used to maintain the vessel's freezers, although the fault of the blaze was put down to negligence.

Investigators believed that the explosion was triggered by a welder, or the spark from a hammer, although it was established that the technicians should not have been engaging in the work at that particular time.

A representative from the shipyard claimed that the workers had previously requested permission to start work in the hold, but were refused permission because highly inflammable protective materials had not been removed.

All of the victims, who worked for the auxiliary company, ITASA, were technicians in the installation and assembly of refrigeration equipment.

At the time of the accident, they were working in the depth of the hold of the Frigosia, a ship built in the Sevillian Shipyards for the Madrid company Transmar, SA.

The youngest of the victims was 26-year-old Carlos Alfaro Jiménez. The other victims were Juan Trimiño Pérez, 38, Fernando Rodríguez Góngora, 37, Juan José Ceberiño Barroso, 30, Antonio García Romero, 44, and Jorge Moret Pimentel, 27.

The survivor, Miguel Sánchez Iquierd, who was thrown into the air by the force of the blast, received third-degree burns to 60 per cent of his body. Rescue workers said at the time that he was lucky to have survived.

It transpired the following day that an eighth worker had left the warehouse to run an errand just moments before the explosion.