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27 Aug, 2008 23:56

Kiev declares state of emergency as arsenal fire spreads

Firefighters are tackling a blaze in an ammunition depot in North-West Ukraine. The fire broke out on Wednesday afternoon, setting off a series of explosions of artillery shells and other weapons.

Homes within five kilometres of the depot have been evacuated from the area.

Authorites say the biggest danger is from flames spreading to anti-tank rockets, which have a range of several kilometres.

The fire broke out in a nearby forest before spreading to the storage facility, which contains around ninety-five thousand tons of weapons.

Kiev has declared a state of emergency over the incident.

A criminal investigation has been launched into how the fire started.

This is the latest in a series of similar incidents at military ammunition depots in Ukraine.

On August 19, 2006 and May 18, 2007 fires broke out at military base А2985 in Novobogdanovka, leaving four injured.

On April 11, 2008 a blast occurred at rocket base 275 injuring three pyrotechnists.

However the last major fire – that led to population evacuated – occurred in Zaporozhskaya region on May 6, 2004.