19 Jun 2013

Thousands evacuated after Russian blasts

9:38 pm on 19 June 2013

More than 6000 people have been evacuated in central Russia after a series of massive explosions at an arms depot blew out windows and sparked a fire.

The Emergency Ministry says the blasts began on Tuesday night and continued for hours close to the town of Chapayevsk in the Samara region about 1000km from Moscow.

The depot contained around 18 million shells and the explosions came as work was being done on the disposal of the old munitions, AFP reports.

Russian television has shown footage of huge columns of black smoke rising from the depot, while a correspondent for Rossiya 24 television at the scene said the explosions rang out every minute overnight.

Regional officials say 48 people needed medical treatment and 11 were hospitalised.

The ministry used aircraft to drop water on the fire.