Blasts rock Russian arms depot, nearby residents evacuated

Police started evacuation of residents of the Ural mountain village of Urman amid powerful explosions -- with an interval of two to three minutes -- at the local ammunition depot, a spokesman said Monday.

Last week also, a fire broke out at the depot after soldiers were preparing old ammunition stored there for disposal. The fire caused massive explosions at the depot, with shells scattering around the area as far as five kilometres and setting fire to surrounding houses and trees.

Fifty houses burned to the ground, and 160 people were left homeless.

The damage from the accident has been estimated at 100 million rubles ($3.5 million), and a criminal case opened against a soldier who had reportedly thrown a live shell onto other shells ready for disposal that sparked the fire, police said.

The blaze that broke out Thursday was put out late Friday.

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