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Fire in Arms Dump Displaces Thousands of Russians

October 02, 2005|From Reuters

MOSCOW — Fire tore through an ammunition dump in far eastern Russia on Saturday, igniting thousands of artillery shells and forcing rescue workers to evacuate about 7,000 people, officials said.

The blaze started in the early morning hours on the Kamchatka peninsula, and television footage showed sparks and red-hot metal shooting into the sky as shells exploded every few seconds.

The fire ignited artillery shells about 1:30 a.m., Igor Maiborodov, a spokesman for Russia's Pacific Fleet, said in televised reports. "The fire was successfully controlled but there are still occasional shells exploding. The civilian population has been evacuated from the danger zone."

Nine villages were evacuated.

Maiborodov said no civilians or servicemen had been killed, but Interfax news agency quoted sources who said that as many as five guards could have been present in the arms dump at the time of the fire, and their fate was unknown.

News agencies said one woman had been injured by flying pieces of glass, some of which were propelled at least 3 miles.

It was unclear how the blaze started.

The explosions were reported to be audible in the garrison town of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 30 miles away.

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