MOSCOW — A series of explosions rocked a Russian military test site on Tuesday, releasing giant clouds of smoke over the city of Orenburg near the Kazakhstan border and causing aftershocks.
closed the roads leading into Orenburg, halted trains and evacuated
thousands of residents from three villages near the test site.
Berg, the governor of the surrounding region, wrote on his blog that
the three explosions were caused by unplanned shell detonations. He said
emergency services saw no potential harm to local residents.
city officials said that the shells exploded inside a supply depot.
Though no victims have been reported, Orenburg emergency services
dispatched 14 ambulances to the Donguz test site and prepared facilities
for the evacuated villagers and any potential victims.
officials have launched a criminal investigation into the suspected
mishandling of weapons, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.
military equipment, which frequently dates back to the Soviet era, has
exploded unexpectedly several times at test sites in recent years.
President Vladimir Putin has pledged to overhaul and modernize the
country’s stagnant defense industry.