Sofia: Fifteen people were feared dead Thursday after a blast flattened a Bulgarian explosives plant that decommissioned landmines, with the government saying there was "minimal" chance of finding survivors.
"There are no signs of life at the site of the explosion" that ripped through the plant near the northwestern village of Gorni Lom late on Wednesday, civil defence force director Nikolay Nikolov told local radio.
Interior Minister Yordan Bakalov said that the "chances of finding anyone still alive are minimal".
"Thermal cameras are being used to search the site but only one animal has been recovered," said the secretary general of the interior ministry, Svetlozar Lazarov.
"The factory has been reduced to ashes," he said.
According to the government there were 15 people working in the plant at the time of the blast which happened as Greek landmines were being taken apart.
Two weeks ago a report uncovered numerous problems and poor "technological discipline" at the privately owned facility after six people were injured in explosions in 2007 and 2010.
Bulgaria, the EU`s poorest country, has large amounts of ageing ammunition dating from the communist era waiting to be disposed of and similar incidents have multiplied in recent years.