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BREAKING NEWS

Russian explosives factory blast 'injures at least 79 people'

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Russian explosives factory blast 'injures at least 79 people'
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Associated Press
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At least 79 people were injured and 15 people hospitalised after a blast at a Russian explosives manufacturing plant, according to a statement from the Russian health ministry.

The blast took place at the Kristall plant on Saturday in Dzerzhinsk, about 400 kilometres east of Moscow. The town has more than 240,000 residents.

The health ministry said 38 plant workers and 41 city residents asked for medical assistance. None of them were children.

One person suffered severe injuries and 14 suffered injuries of "moderate" severity, the health ministry said.

Russian press agency Interfax reported that the plant's general director was suspended the day before the fire for safety violations. The plant produces TNT and a fire started after several explosions, according to Russian news agencies.

Another explosion took place at the plant on April 4, according to Russian state-owned agency Russia-24.

The town of Dzerzhinsk was historically used by the Soviet Union as a manufacturing town to produce biological and chemical weapons.

In 1997, the Guinness Book of World Records listed Dzerzhinsk as the world's most polluted industrial town. As of 2007, a quarter of the town's residents worked in factories that produce toxic chemicals, according to the Pure Earth, a US-based nonprofit that tracks global pollution.

The life expectancy for city residents was reported in the mid-2000s as below 50 for women and below 45 for men.

According to the NGO Pure Earth, manufacturing plants consistently dumped toxic chemicals into landfills in the town, and roughly 300,000 tonnes of chemical waste were improperly handled between 1930 and 1998, contaminating the town's groundwater.