At least 11 killed after wildfires set off explosions at Siberian munitions depot
30 April 2014
On April 30, Interfax reported that a wildfire raging in Siberia caused an explosion at a munitions depot, killing at least 11 people and led to the temporary closure of a section of the Transsiberian railway. The types of ammunition stored at the depot included TNT, anti-tank and anti-personnel mines, and explosive materials, Itar-Tass reported.
Rescuers found a burnt-out truck with the bodies of 10 people, including two soldiers and eight civilians, at the munitions depot near Bolshaya Tura village in the Zabaikalsky region, Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov was quoted as saying by Interfax.
The Health Ministry later said that 11 people had died as a result of the blast and that 26 people had been injured, of which 11 were hospitalised, Interfax reported.
There were about 95 police officers on site assisting and ensuring order and security. Four aircraft, 759 people, and 191 equipment units were helping to fight the blaze.
The explosion appeared to have been caused by a forest fire that has engulfed nearly 69,000 hectares of land across Siberia. About 400 people have been evacuated from nearby towns and villages in Zabaykalsky Krai.
"A flash-like spread of the flames from the forest to the territory of the depot" cutting off employees from an escape route, Konashenkov was quoted as saying. A commanding officer tried to evacuate the employees on a depot truck, which became caught up in the explosion, he said.
The railway operator said trains between Chita and Karymskaya on the Transiberian railroad had been temporarily stopped for "security reasons," but that they were running again later on April 30.