Russia arms depot fire leaves one missing, thousands evacuated

MOSCOW (AFP) – One person was missing yesterday and several more were injured after a fire and huge explosions at a Siberian ammunition depot, as thousands of evacuated residents waited to return to their homes.

Monday’s fire at the depot holding gunpowder charges for artillery shells near the town of Achinsk in the Krasnoyarsk region was the latest accident to hit Russia’s military.

Witnesses have posted footage on the Internet showing a huge column of black smoke rising over a forest.

By yesterday, the explosions had largely stopped but it was too early for residents to return home as the army had to de-mine the affected residential areas, officials said.

Deputy Defence Minister Dmitry Bulgakov said 70 sappers had arrived at the scene to help with the clean-up effort.

He said in televised remarks that “human error” was believed to have caused the accident.

Four people including two servicemen had been injured, Bulgakov added.

A family watches explosions at a military ammunition depot near the city of Achinsk in eastern Siberia’s Krasnoyarsk region, in Achinsk, Russia. – AP