Russia explosion and fire at munitions depot sends 2,000 fleeing


Russia has evacuated more than 2,000 people from nearby villages after a wildfire set off explosions at a munitions depot in the Ryazan region south-east of Moscow, officials said.

More than 400 firefighters were battling into the evening on Wednesday to extinguish a blaze that broke out at the depot that day, with the authorities saying five people were injured but there were no deaths.

The fire was sparked by a wildfire in dry grass nearby, the emergencies ministry said, causing munitions to explode.

Flames and huge clouds of smoke rose up to the sky above the depot, which reportedly contained 75,000 tonnes of munitions.

An investigative committee said it had opened a criminal inquiry into potential breaches of rules on handling weapons.

The emergencies ministry said late on Wednesday that it had sent additional firefighters from the Moscow region and was using equipment including a fire-fighting train. The emergencies minister, Yevgeny Zinichev, travelled to the scene.

Firefighters worked into the night to fight a blaze at an ammunition depot in Russia’s Ryazan region.
Firefighters worked into the night to fight a blaze at an ammunition depot in Russia’s Ryazan region. Photograph: Russian Emergencies Ministry/Reuters

The regional governor, Nikolai Lyubimov, described the situation as “complex” but said in a statement in the evening: “The worst is behind us, the situation is under control.”

The emergency ministry said it evacuated more than 2,300 residents living within a five-kilometre radius of the fire and nearby highways were closed.

The western military district in charge of the site said it evacuated its troops after they attempted unsuccessfully to fight the fire.

Such accidents are relatively common in Russia due to large amounts of old munitions remaining in storage.

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