Forest fires may be to blame for a critical situation developing at a Russian munitions depot near Urman in Bashkortostan.
Between five and seven thousand people have been evacuated with around ten people injured. All are civilians who were hurt either fighting the fires or attempting to remove some of the 100,000 tons of explosives stored in the depot to safety.
The store is only some 500 metres from the village of Urman, and the fires and explosions are expected to last several days. While the forest fires may be the cause, the authorities admit they are unsure why the stored artillery shells caught light and began exploding.
The forestries minister denies the forest fires are to blame, while there have been reports there was an accident while shells were being transferred on-site.
“These explosions are forecast to continue for a day or two, a maximum 3 days. The danger zone extends to about 3-4 kilometres around, so of course we will not let people into that area,” said the president of the Bashkortostan republic Rustem Khamitov.
This is not the first time a munitions dump has exploded in Russia in recent times. In April one in Lipetsk went up in flames claiming four lives, while another exploded in 2009 killing 10.