Disaster response France

AZF Factory Explosion - Toulouse

Published on Sep 21, 2001 02:00 AM  -  Updated on Jul 09, 2019 05:05 PM
Faced with a strong national mobilisation, the Departmental Operational Centre of Fire and Rescue (CODIS) from the Haute Garonne region worked with TSF to coordinate its field teams

Context: Industrial explosion
Start date: 21/09/2001
End date: 29/09/2001
Areas of intervention: Toulouse

  • Support to coordination
  • Information diffusion


Friday, 21st September 2001, at 10h15 am, a terrible explosion destroyed the AZF chemicals factory in Toulouse and flattens everything within a radius of several kilometres. 30 people are killed and hundreds are wounded. Both mobile and fixed telephone networks are heavily affected.


Télécoms Sans Frontières arrived on the site in early afternoon. The team, composed of 4 logisticians with 14 satellite lines and a data transmitter, proceeded directly to the crisis management centre.
The team was directed to the CODIS de Haute-Garonne, the region’s general firefighter and rescue centre. They had been encountering difficulties coordinating their teams in the field due to the lack of means of communication.

Support to coordination

Two satellite phones were installed at the CODIS, the other distributed throughout the intervention field between the command centre, site cleanup officials and medical and coordinations centres. The last phone kit was given to Col. Poncet, in charge of the general coordination work.

Throughout the afternoon and the following night, TSF allowed the rescue teams to organise their operations and helped the CODIS deal with the situation. At 8 o’clock Sept.22nd, the telephone network was restored and Télécoms Sans Frontières withdrew from zone.

Information diffusion

Five days later, on 27th September, the Civil Security body called upon TSF. The rescue teams were working within the plant’s safety zone, and were unable to communicate with the outside. For three days, a TSF logistician provided pictures and situation reports for the Civil Security body to the Interior Minister. This operation was praised by Lionel Jospin, the Prime Minister at the time, and Philippe Douste-Blazy, the Mayor of Toulouse.


With the support of