At least eight people have been killed in an explosion that happened at Arsenal 31, ammunitions depot on the outskirts of Ulyanovsk, 900km (550 miles) south-east of Moscow, Russia. This explosion comes within 10 days after explosions tore through the same site, the defense ministry says.
A bomb disposal squad was working on the site, loading live ammunition onto a lorry when the blast occurred. All the people killed are reported to be members of the squad. Two people were also injured in the accident. The blast took place at 1430hrs local time on Monday, when the team was clearing the affected area in the naval base which had been affected by the earlier accident on November 13.
The earlier explosions and resulting fire had left two soldiers dead when they attempted to decommission the weapons that were left after the fire had been put off.
The regional emergency ministry branch had previously warned the local residents that it was carrying out “planned detonation of unexploded shells” from the arms depot. The ministry had also promised that it was following all “safety measures“.
Russian ammunition depots as well as much of the ammunition still dates back to Soviet era and the ageing arsenal has been a major cause of concern. This is not the first time that such a mishap has occurred.
President Dmitry Medvedev is scheduled to visit Ulyanovsk on Tuesday to meet Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev in a bid to resolve the Azerbaijan-Armenia dispute over Nagorny Karabakh and to inaugurate a square named after Aliyev’s late father and former Azerbaijani leader, Heidar Aliyev.
Investigations are under way into both incidents. At the time of the 13 November incident, officials said artillery shells and torpedoes were kept at the arsenal.