Jacoba Mouto, who worked for Rheinmetall Denel Munition for 22 years, puts flowers at the front gate of the plant after eight of her former co-workers were killed in a blast at the site.

PRETORIA - Munitions company Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) on Wednesday pledged to provide "continuous support" to families, employees and community members affected by the explosion at its factory in Macassar‚ Western Cape‚ which left at least eight people dead.

"There is nothing more important right now than providing utmost support and care for the families involved in this heartbreaking incident,” said Norbert Schulze, chief executive of RDM.

The company said it will hold another meeting with the family members on Thursday to provide another detailed update on the incident. 

The investigation of the explosion, which took place on Monday, is still ongoing. 

RDM said a joint operations command (JOC) was activated directly after the incident to coordinate immediate disaster response and mitigation effectively. 

"With the response phase completed, the JOC was de-activated on the evening of 4 September. Now moving into recovery phase, all emergency agencies and government authorities continue to work hand-in-hand with Rheinmetall Denel Munition to identify the cause of the incident," the company said in the statement.

"The product involved in the incident was an ignition propellant consisting of more than 95 percent Nitrocellulose, commonly known as Gun-cotton. It is used as an ignition material for ammunition charge systems. The combustion products of this material consist of Carbon Dioxide (34%), Water (13%, Nitrogen (13%) and Carbon Monoxide (38%), as well as Hydrogen (one percent), and Methane (one percent)."

RDM said the smoke cloud resulting from the explosion thus did not constitute any health risk to the employees and surrounding communities.

Rheinmetall Denel Munition RF (Pty) Ltd is a high-technology company and an integrated manufacturer and supplier of selected munitions and explosive-related products for armed forces and police in South Africa, and around the world. 

RDM is "a strategic partnership" between Rheinmetall Defence of Germany, which has a 51% stake and Denel SOC Ltd of South Africa which has the remaining 49% stake.

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African News Agency (ANA)