Thursday 19 April 2018

Ukraine says ammunitions blast was 'sabotage' as 30,000 evacuated

Smoke and flames rise over a warehouse storing ammunition. Photo: Reuters/Gleb Garanich
Smoke and flames rise over a warehouse storing ammunition. Photo: Reuters/Gleb Garanich

Roland Oliphant

More than 30,000 people have been evacuated after a blaze ripped through an ammunition depot in Ukraine in what Kiev authorities called an act of "sabotage".

The blaze at a military base near Kalynivka in the Vinnytsa region, about 180km southwest of Kiev, is the second massive explosion at a weapons storage site this year. Footage showed pillars of flame and mushroom clouds curling above the base as explosions occurred every few seconds. Rockets could be seen launching at random into the skies around the base.

Authorities said yesterday morning that two people had been injured.

Volodymyr Groysman, the Ukrainian prime minister, flew to the scene overnight on the instructions of Petro Poroshenko, the president.

"This is the arsenal of the Ukrainian army, and I think it was no accident that it was destroyed," Mr Groysman said in televised remarks.

The Ukrainian army said on its Facebook page the fire began at about 10pm local time on Tuesday.

About 100 conscript soldiers were evacuated.

Photos showed several houses and vehicles destroyed.

The arms depot was one of the largest in Ukraine, and housed thousands of artillery shells, bullets, and rockets.

It follows a similar explosion that killed one person at a site in Balakliya, in the eastern Kharkiv region, in March.

The government blamed that incident on Russia or the separatist forces it arms and supplies in the neighbouring Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

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