Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Old Munitions Blasts Rock Central Russia

 Old munitions exploded Oct. 9 at a military disposal site in central Russia, sending a white plume of smoke into the sky and forcing authorities to partially evacuate residents of nearby villages.

The Donguz military range 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of the city of Orenburg in the Ural mountains region caught fire after the old munitions unexpectedly exploded there at 0650 GMT Oct. 9, the emergencies and defense ministries said in separate statements.

Authorities were considering evacuating residents of four villages close to the range, a spokesman for the regional emergencies ministry, Vladislav Zubchenko, told AFP.

He did not say how many people were evacuated from the affected area, which is home to several thousand people.

Television footage showed a white plume of smoke rising above the area.

Several buildings in one village sustained damage, with the explosions also shattering windows, the government of the Orenburg region said.

Zubchenko said that the blasts had stopped by around 0930 GMT, but the fire was still burning.

The defense ministry said no military personnel had been injured and everyone was accounted for.

Officials also said no local residents had been hurt, but hospitals in Orenburg were on high alert and ready to treat any possible casualties.

Authorities planned to send two Il-76 planes to the region to help douse the flames.

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