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4/18/10

Run Away! Run Away!


Last Friday evening the cream of Peru's military, its Defence Minister, various APRA party bigwigs and local reporters were invited to watch a test of the 'Spike' missile system that Peru bought from its Israeli makers for the sum of U$48m. There's a single short report in English as to what happened next but it really doesn't do the joint full justice. However the AFP dude on the scene wrote a much better copy of what happened in his Spanish language filing and here it is, translated by yours truly.

Panic In Peru Due To Failed Israeli Missile Test: One Congresswoman Injured

Lima, April 17

Panic and a stampede was caused by a failed military test when an Israeli anti-tank missile went off-course from its target and fell close to the area where Peru's military heads and political authorities were watching the test-firing, causing the congresswoman Mercedes Cabanillas to suffer a dislocated shoulder amongst cries of "Hit the deck!" from military personnel.

The Directive for Army War Materials organized the test-firing of two Israeli built Spike missiles (MR/LR) in the presence of the Minister of Defence Rafael Rey, military authorities, members of Congress, journalists and representative of the vendors of the missile system, Raphael. The test took place in Cruz de Hueso, a desert zone some 45km from Peru's capital city, Lima.

In the afternoon one Spike missile for use in daylight was tested without incident, but when it was time to test the night-time missile the artifact only advanced 100m and moved off course towards the watching authorities. The missile fell some 50m from Minister Rey and the other invited guests and although it did not detonate it did provoke a stampede.

Panic ensued amongst the test spectators, who began running in the darkness while military personnel shouted non-stop "Hit the deck! so that the people would be safe. The danger was evident, because even though the projectile did not explode on hitting the ground it continued alight.

The member of Congress and ex-Interior Minister of the current government, Mercedes Cabanillas, was the only injured person when she fell and hit her shoulder while running away to save herself. She is reported to have dislocated a shoulder and will be operated upon this Saturday. "When everyone was running in the dark to protect themselves I took a hard knock. Somebody or something hit me hard", she said.

After the emergency was over, representatives of Raphael offered their apologies for the episode and said that it was due to a technical fault. Minister Rey demanded detailed information about the event, which the Israeli company will present in one week's time. However, the same Minister of Defence said that it was due to, "A technical error and not human error."

This is the first time that the Peruvian Armed Forces have tested Israeli weapons systems in tests open to the press. The missiles were acquired in 2009 as part of a batch of 288, along with 24 launch platforms at a cost of U$48m.


Meanwhile the important line comes at minute 1:57: