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CHITA, April 30. /ITAR-TASS/. Three sappers were wounded during combat engineer reconnaissance on an area adjacent to the village of Bolshaya Tura in East Siberia’s Trans-Baikal Territory when a mine exploded at about 13:15 Moscow Time (09:15 GMT), the Russian Defense Ministry said Wednesday.
Ministry spokesman Maj.-Gen. Igor Konashenkov told ITAR-TASS that the mine exploded because a civilian truck hit it.
“Knowing about the danger of the truck exploding, the group of military sappers tried to stop the vehicle. But the truck driver, instead of obeying the head of the sappers group, decided to bypass the servicemen,” he said.
“As a result of the truck hitting an unexploded mine, the piece of ammunition got blown up and three servicemen received wounds of different degrees of gravity,” Konashenkov said.
Earlier, Defense Ministry sources said the fire at an ammunition depot of the Eastern Military District in Siberia's Trans-Baikal territory had been extinguished by noon Moscow time on Wednesday.
The ministry confirmed that 10 people died in explosions at the military arsenal near the village of Bolshaya Tura. Reports said a commander, a contract serviceman and eight civilians died aboard a truck there. Meanwhile, Russia's Public Healthcare Ministry said there were 11 casualties, 34 people were injured, including 11 taken to hospitals.Other personnel needing medical aid are being sent to a military hospital in the city of Chita. Emergency headquarters were established to co-ordinate information about the dead and injured.
A criminal case has been opened to probe any negligence in the affair, Russia's Investigative Committee told ITAR-TASS on Wednesday, referring to a blaze triggered by taiga wildfires spreading to the ammunition depot.
Local forest fires had not endangered Bolshaya Tura village before Tuesday evening. However, wind speed rose to 5-7 meters a second sending flames across a federal highway to encircle the base and its ammunition.
Servicemen fought to save fuel and lubricants stored nearby while eight Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft and nine helicopters arrived in support.