Ten Russian villages are evacuated after explosions at munitions depot sparked by wildfires
- Series of large explosions have rocked a munitions depot in Ryazan, Russia
- Military said they were caused by wildfires which ignited parts of the base
- Ten villages within three mile radius have been evacuated, and motorway closed
- Witnesses said blasts rained shrapnel from the sky, shook windows miles away
Ten villages in Russia have been evacuated after a series of explosions at a munitions depot, which the military blamed on wildfires.
Rounds could be heard detonating once every five to ten seconds at the base in the Ryazan region, 115 miles south of Moscow, Russian news agencies reported.
Videos posted online showed several large fireballs rising into the sky along with a thick plume of smoke, accompanied by smaller flashes closer to the ground.
Ten villages in Ryazan district, south of Moscow, have been evacuated after multiple explosions at a Russian arms dump that the military said was sparked by wildfires
Fireballs could be seen rising into the sky over the base, as Russian media said rounds were exploding at the artillery depot every five to ten seconds
A spokesman said a grass fire started near the artillery depot around 1.10pm before ‘gusty winds’ spread it to woodlands and then the base itself.
The fire brigade was called and entered the base along with a military unit, but failed to extinguish the flames.
All personnel have now been evacuated, and there are no reports of casualties, the spokesman added.
Witnesses said shrapnel and ash could be seen falling from the sky, and that four large explosions took place within the first hour of the fire taking hold.
The villages of Shelemikhino and Zheltukhino were feared to have been damaged by the blasts, which shook the windows of homes several miles away.
The military said a grass fire spread to woodlands around the base, then engulfed the base itself, causing a series of large blasts
Witnesses said ash and shrapnel was falling from the sky, as the military also closed a nearby highway to prevent anyone being injured
The damage was also feared to have spread to the village of Kuzminka-2, though the Defense Ministry insisted there was no danger to other settlements.
The Emergencies Ministry said a motorway was also being closed down to prevent passing motorists from being injured.
Fires and explosions at ammunition depots have plagued the Russian army for years and drawn criticism of lax safety standards.
An Il-76 tanker plane and a fire train are being prepared to extinguish the fire as a major emergency operation got underway.
Military specialists were being drafted in after civilian fire services were left struggling to tackle the blaze.