Monday, November 16, 2009

Firebursts in the night sky

MOSCOW (AP) - Huge explosions and flames ripped through a Russian military arsenal for hours, killing two firefighters and sending personnel fleeing to a bomb shelter to wait out the worst of the firestorm, officials said. The dozens who took refuge in the shelter Friday were at first feared trapped in the conflagration, but later emerged safe dispelling initial worries of a high death toll. But a subsequent report said 11 others were unaccounted for. Russian TV broadcast footage of orange flames and thick smoke clouds rising from the naval munitions facility in Ulyanovsk, a city 720 kilometers (430 miles) east of Moscow. Frequent explosions set off firebursts high in the night sky. The blasts broke apartment windows near the facility and set off car alarms miles (kilometers) away, residents told Russian media. The blasts and blaze erupted while ammunition was being destroyed at the facility, according to the Federal Security Service branch in the province. Artillery shells and other munitions were stored at the site. Two firefighters were killed and seven military personnel were injured, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said. Some 3,000 civilians were evacuated from nearby homes, Ulyanovsk provincial governor Sergei Morozov said.
News agency Associated Press