Fire causes missile explosions in Ukraine

Fire causes missile explosions in Ukraine

27 August 2008

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Ukraine — Artillery shells and other ammunition at a storage site in Ukraine exploded after a forest fire spread to the facility, prompting an evacuation, emergency officials said.

The prime minister was quoted as saying nobody was seriously injured.

The fire broke out in a forest near the town of Lozovaya, some 300 miles (500 kilometers) east of the capital Kiev, the Defense Ministry said. Firefighters couldn’t handle the blaze, and it spread to the arsenal, which contains some 100 tons of ammunition on a 1,235-acre (500-hectare) site, it said.

Russia’s RIA-Novosti news agency quoted Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko as saying three were no casualties. According to Interfax, she said that 1,400 people had been evacuated and a total of 6,000 would be evacuated from the area around the facility.

Ukrainian defense officials have warned that dozens of large ammunition depots inherited from the former Soviet Union are poorly maintained and represent a serious public hazard.

A fire and explosions at a munitions depot in southern Ukraine in 2004 killed five people. It took days to put the blaze out.

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