Off the western coast of Mexico, about 150 miles west of Guadalajara, lies a pair of uninhabited islands with a very peculiar history.
Formed by volcanic activity thousands of years ago, the islands have never been settled upon by anybody. In the early 1900s, the Mexican government decided to use the islands for military explosives testing, creating a number of extraordinary caves and rock formations on the islands.
Check out some pictures of the islands below:
In the late 1960s, world-famous scientist and environmental activist Jacques Cousteau led an international outcry about the testing, prompting the Mexican government to turn the islands into a national park.
Hunting, fishing and human activity are prohibited on the island, though visitors are allowed to check out the hidden beaches and caves created by the explosions.
The biodiversity of the islands is legendary. Visitors regularly report seeing sea turtles, manta rays, octopus, dolphins, and humpback whales, as well as thousands of species of tropical fish.
It was recently discovered by officials from the explosives factory in Yekaterinburg, Russia, that around 2,000 tons of ammonite-based explosives had been removed from the facility over a period of over a year from October 1, 2010 to December 31, 2011.
As far as I can ascertain from the translated article (the original is in Russian), a Russian company called Spetsvzryva which was in the business of setting up controlled blasts in quarries, was one of the buyers of the explosives produced at the factory.
The factory gave Sergei Torgashova, the former chief engineer at Spetsvzryva, power of attorney rights to allow the explosives to be released to him or an associate.
It was recently discovered, however, that Torgashova hadn’t been employed by Spetsvzryva since September of 2010 and that the company had actually been in bankruptcy proceedings since that time.
Executives from Spetsvzryva claim that they had no idea that this was happening, and when the company’s assets were turned over to the government as part of the bankruptcy proceedings, the explosives were nowhere to be found.
Torgashova, who know owns a number of other businesses, declined to comment on when he resigned from Spetsvzryva or what projects the explosives had been used on (if they were used at all).
For an idea of how much explosive material is missing, Anders Breivik used only about 12,000kg of a similar ammonite-based explosive in the bomb he detonated in Oslo, Norway in 2011. The article doesn’t specify if the 2,000 tons refers to metric tons or not, but even using the most conservative estimate, this amount is more than 1.8 million kilograms of explosives.
It would be irresponsible journalism to not mention that the validity of stories from ura.ru have been questioned before, but many supporters say these claims are just attempts to quiet an outspoken and progressive news outlet which is often critical of powerful politicians and businessmen.
This may be why no major new outlets have covered this story yet. To read more about the website’s battles with the government and courts, check out this Washington Post article.
Here’s the full article from ura.ru. However, remember that it’s in Russian and google translate only works so well. If you speak Russian and can help translation or disambiguation of the article we would love to hear from you.
We will do our best to post about any updates as the information becomes available.