On Tuesday, it was reported that an explosion in Central Russia had caused mushroom-like clouds, and that three shells were involved. Turns out it was more like 4,000 tons of shells detonated in the blasts.
Digital Journal reported on the explosions on Tuesday and the article noted that there was some confusion as to the number of injured, or whether there were injuries at all.
An amateur video showed the mushroom-like clouds from the explosions, which happened at a military testing ground around 40 kilometers from Orenburg in Central Russia. It was alleged that three shells loaded onto a train had exploded.
According to the head of the military investigative committee, it turns out that it was more like 4,000 tons of shells. These included 1,379 tons of 100mm shells, 400 tons of air bombs and 2,300 tons of 280mm reactive shells.
According to the press secretary for the regional government, three residential buildings in Pervomaisky were damaged and the force of the explosion blew out windows of many of the local houses. The blasts also blew out windows in schools, kindergartens and a hospital in the area. Windows in buildings several kilometers away from the epicenter of the explosion were rattled.
A brush fire was also caused by the blasts nearby, in around 15-20 hectares of dead grass. According to authorities this fire is not threatening any populated areas.
Two nearby towns had to be evacuated after the explosions, with initial reports that 700 of the 10,000 people living in Experimentalny and Pervomaisky, nicknamed Donguz after the nearby military base, were evacuated. According to the latest estimates, however, RT is reporting that only 19 people were forced to leave their homes and move to four evacuation centers, where they were given water and food.
Ria Novosti is, however, reporting that 30 people were evacuated, but that they have now been allowed to return home.
Donguz resident, Valeri Utkin told RT, “I was at home when it happened, about five kilometers from the blast. Everyone came out of their houses right away, emergency vehicles came right after warning people that there will be [an] evacuation. Right now the village is evacuated.”
“Buses arrived to take most of the people and others chose to take higher ground through their own means. They didn’t tell us how long the evacuation will last. Right now I see a lot of smoke coming in,” Utkin added.
According to initial reports, a fire at the military facility's loading dock set off shells which were stored on a train for disposal. However, this was later disputed by Russian's Defense Ministry's press service. The ministry denied that a train loaded with shells was at the testing range, and said that only three shells had exploded.
It was later revealed that over 4,000 tons of shells had detonated and local authorities suspect a breach of safety regulations may have caused the blasts.
While a local hospital had initially reported four injured persons from the explosions, and that they expected more, the deputy chief doctor later denied that the hospital had received any patients from the incident.
Apparently the state of emergency which was announced after the explosions is still in effect. Local authorities confirm that police have closed roads leaving Orenburg.
The Mail Online is reporting that the explosions were caused by a dropped cigarette, according to a statement on local state television by military prosecutor, Yevgeny Ivanov.
This video shows the brush fire caused by the incident.