Two villages were evacuated on Tuesday following a series of huge explosions near a military testing ground at Donguzsky, 40 kms from Orenburg in Central Russia.
According to witnesses, and as shown in the amateur video above, a massive plume of smoke rose into the air shortly after the explosions. Residents in the area said that the blasts were so powerful, windows shook, dozens of kilometers away.
According to initial reports, a fire at the military facility's loading dock set off shells that were stored for disposal on a train.
Rescue workers evacuated up to 10,000 residents of the nearby towns of Experimentalny and Pervomaisky, dubbed the Donguz settlement for the garrison of the same name located there.
According to a local hospital, four people were injured in the blast, and they expected the number of injuries to rise. However, later the deputy chief doctor denied that the hospital had treated any patients in the wake of the incident.
The statement was also disputed by the Press Service of Russia’s Defense Ministry, claiming that no one was injured or went missing in the incident.
The ministry reportedly also denied that the train loaded with shells was at the testing range, and they said that only three shells exploded.
According to the regional government press secretary, three residential buildings were damaged in the town of Pervomaisky, and that the force of the explosion blew out the windows of many local houses. The press secretary also denied any reports of injuries.
A spokesperson for the investigation department told RIA-Novosti that military investigators had opened a criminal case into the incident.
The incident has been classified as a “violation of rules of handling weapons and objects posing increased danger,” which carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison. Officials say that a full investigation into the incident may take more than a month.
Gazeta.ru reports that this is not the first time that discarded ammunition has exploded at the Donguzsky base. Since last August, six soldiers have reportedly suffered injuries in minor incidents.