Huge ammunition depot 120 km away from Kyiv on fire, 12,000 evacuated

Photo: Oleksandra Lapnina, Ukrinform 

Ukraine

A military ammunition depot with some 88,000 tonnes of munitions near the Raion capital city of Ichnia in Chernihiv Oblast, Ukraine, is undergoing a series of explosions that reportedly started at 03:30 a.m. on 9 October. About 12,000 were evacuated, The airspace around the site has been closed within a radius of 30 km. The facility is situated some 120 km away from the eastern outskirts of Kyiv, and 140-160 km away from the borders with Russia and Belarus.

The 6th depot occupies about 682,6 ha, the area of the technical premises is 402 ha.

The General Staff reported that the commander of the facility informed about an explosion at the technical premises at 03:30.

The State Service for Emergency Situations (DSNS) says it received the emergency call on the fire and explosions on the premises of the 6th ammunition depot of the Defense Ministry near the urban-type settlement of Druzhba at 03:40. As per DSNS, approximately 88,000 tonnes of ammunition had been stored at the facility.

The agency organized the evacuation of the population from the potential hitting area, some 10,000 left the dangerous area in the night.

At 04:22 the airspace over the incident zone was closed within a 30-kilometer radius around the depot. Motor-vehicle and train traffic suspended.

The night footage shows the high intensity of the distant explosions.

According to DSNS, as of 08:00 an emergency response center is functioning at the scene, led by Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroysman, Deputy Interior Minister Serhiy Yarovyi, and DSNS head Mykola Chechotkin. The General Staff added that an operative group headed by the chief of the general staff rushed to the scene of the accident too.

DSNS involved 21 fire teams in the emergency response, including 107 firefighters and 39 pieces of equipment. 109 more firemen (23 more teams) have been on high alert in the adjacent oblasts. Ukrainian Railways even put 7 fire response trains in operational readiness. From the beginning of the incident, the military facility has been using its own fire tank GPM-54, and 4 more are to be delivered by the Army.

As of 08:00 the frequency of explosions decreased. The footage shows the view of the fire zone from Ichnya.

As of 09:00, DSNS had no information whether anyone was hurt or died due to the accident. The General Staff reported no casualties among servicemen and local residents.

The General Staff reported that the intensity of the explosions “decreased significantly,” intense smoke has been observed, explosions of the firearms munitions can be heard as of 09:00.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense has briefed journalists that in the recent years over 50% of ammunition were moved from unprotected open-air storage to protected depots. According to the Ministry, the guards of the facility confirmed that there were 4 initial blasts in different parts of premises and the fire started immidiately after them. For now, only 10% of the depot remain on fire.

As of 09:30 DSNS evacuated about 12,000 local residents from the incident-affected area.

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Updated:

At about 11:30 deputy head of the Ichnya Raion administration, Nataliia Romanova told that no one was traumatized or killed by the explosions, but 5 houses were damaged.

As of 16:00, over 12,500 evacuated from the settlements in the 16-km zone around the ammunition depot in Chernihiv Oblast, following a fire followed by explosions.

Not first accident at military depots

  • On 26 September 2017 military ammunition started detonating as a fire had broken out at a major Ukrainian artillery and rocket munitions depot near the village of Kalynivka about 20 km north of Vynnytsia, a capital city of an oblast, bordering on the Russia-controlled Transnistrian region of Moldova southwest of Ukraine.
  • On 22 September 2017, the explosions started at an arms depot in Maloianysol near Mariupol. A fire on a farmland near the village of spread to a field storage of ammunition causing detonations, the Defence Ministry said. This incident has also been investigated as possible subversive action, but no conclusions were announced so far.
  • In March 2017, Ukraine’s reportedly biggest depot of ammunition was destroyed by fire in Balakliya, Kharkiv Oblast, killing 1, injuring 4. 265 buildings, including 231 residential, were damaged. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry called sabotage as the main reason for the tragedy.
  • In the evening of 17 February 2016, a military depot in Zaporizhzhia oblast was bombed with incendiary objects dropped from unmanned aerial vehicles, the fire was extinguished, however, there were over 50 pits of fire recorded across the territory of the warehouse, according to the spokesman for the General Staff, Vladyslav Selezniov.
  • Back in October 2015, a military arms storage with approximately 3,500 tons of ammunition caught fire in Svatove. Officially, negligence of duties was named as the main reason for the incident.

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