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Explosions subside at arms depot in Orenburg region

June 13, 2012, 19:02 UTC+3

Practically all of 300 evacuated people have already returned to their homes

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MOSCOW, June 13 (Itar-Tass) —— Ammunition explosions are subsiding at the arms depot in the Orenburg region where fire started on Monday, June 11, the Defence Ministry said.

Explosions of large calibre ammunition have stopped completely, an aide to the commander of the Central Military District, Yaroslav Rosshchupkin, told Itar-Tass on Wednesdaym, June 13.

“The intensity of explosions of 122 mm shells and ammunition for firearms has decreased dramatically lately and we can say definitively that explosions of 152 mm ordnance have stopped completely,” he said.

At about noon on Wednesday, June 13, explosions resumed at open-door storage sites. “A new wave of detonations was caused by hot and windy weather when the temperature of the air was 35 degrees [Celsius]. About an hour after the start of detonations, the intensity of explosions began to decrease,” the aide said.

The arms depot in the Buzulk district, where the incident happened, is to be disbanded in 2013 under the Defence Ministry’s programme aimed at optimising the ammunition storage system in the Armed Forces.

“Since the depot is to be disbanded next year, more than half of the ammunition stored at it was disposed of. As of the day of the incident, about 12,000 tonnes of ammunition of different calibres remained there,” Rosshchupkin said.

“No damage has been caused to the nearest settlements located some 10 kilometres away and separated from the depot by a forest. Several houses on the technical grounds of the depot need repairs,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Emergencies Ministry’s planes have finished extinguishing fire at the arms depot in the Orenburg region that started on my, June 11.

“Be-200 and Il-76 planes have left Samara for their base,” an Emergencies Ministry official told Itar-Tass.

He said there is no need for aviation any more.

The main sources of fire have been localised or extinguished. Over 920 tonnes of water were dumped on the arms depot. Robots extinguished fire in an area of 3,100 square metres.

“Engineering group examined the administrative area of the depot and disarmed 1,200 pieces of ammunition. They also examined 4 settlements in the Orenburg region and 2 settlements in the Samara region,” the official said.

The fire started at the artillery ammunition depot 14 kilometres from the town of Koltubanovsky on Monday, June 11.

The depot belongs to one of the military units and occupies an area of 83 hectares. It is made of reinforced concrete. The fire was first reported in the Buzuluk District.

Nearly 300 people were evacuated from the hazardous area. Practically all of them have already returned to their homes.

The military investigation section of Russia’s Investigation Committee has opened a criminal case on charges of violation of the rules of handling highly hazardous weapons and ammunition, resulting in the loss of military equipment or other grave consequences.

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