Huge ammunition explosion rocks Russian city

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Oct. 9, 2012, 6:40 p.m. | Russia and former Soviet Union — by Reuters

Smoke from an explosion rises outside the city of Orenburg as fire fighters cars are parked aside on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. A series of explosions has rocked a Russian military test site, releasing giant clouds of smoke over Orenburg near the Kazakhstan border and causing aftershocks.
© AP


MOSCOW - An explosion at a weapons disposal site in central Russia on Tuesday blew windows shut in a city 30 kilometres away but preliminary reports indicated no one was hurt, according to the government and witnesses.

Some 4,000 tonnes of ammunition accidentally detonated as it was being unloaded by soldiers at the site, near the city of Orenbourg, Russia's Investigative Committee said in a statement, adding that it was investigating possible negligence.

There were no casualties, according to preliminary information, the Ministry of Emergencies said. Authorities evacuated three villages and declared a state of emergency, the ministry said.

Television footage taken from the centre of Orenbourg showed a white mushroom cloud billowing from the site some 30 kilometres away. Witnesses said the blast had blown shut windows in the industrial city, which is about 1,500 kilometres east of Moscow.

Explosions at sites to store or dispose of ammunition have plagued the Russian army, accused by critics of negligence or lax compliance with regulations more than 20 years after the fall of the Soviet Union. An explosion at an ammunition disposal site in central Russia killed six soldiers and injured four on May 2.

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