Blasts rock Russian ammunition depot

Blasts rock Russian ammunition depot

Huge explosions and flames ripped through a Russian military arsenal, killing two firefighters and sending personnel fleeing to a bomb shelter to wait out the worst of the firestorm, officials have said.

The dozens who took refuge in the shelter were at first feared trapped in the conflagration, but later emerged safe, dispelling initial worries of a high death toll. But a subsequent report said 11 others were unaccounted for. Russian TV broadcast footage of orange flames and thick smoke clouds rising from the naval munitions facility on Friday in Ulyanovsk province, 720 kilometres east of Moscow. Frequent explosions set off firebursts high in the night sky. The blasts broke apartment windows near the facility in Ulyanovsk province and set off car alarms miles away, residents told Russian media.

The blasts and blaze erupted while ammunition was being destroyed at the facility, according to the Federal Security Service branch in the province. Artillery shells and other munitions were stored at the site, state-run Channel One reported. Two firefighters were killed and seven military personnel were injured, Defence Ministry spokesman Alexei Kuznetsov said. Some 3,000 civilians were evacuated from nearby homes, provincial governor Sergei Morozov said, Russian news agencies Interfax, ITAR-Tass and RIA Novosti reported

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