A series of explosions at a military arms depot in Siberia on Monday left at least eight people injured and prompted the evacuation of about 11,000 nearby residents, according to reports.
The blasts rocked an ammunition storage facility about 6 miles from the city of Achinsk in Siberia’s Krasnoyarsk region that held “gunpowder charges for artillery shells,” according to Reuters.
Rusal, a major aluminium producer, suspended operations as a result of the explosions, which were captured in dramatic photographs that showed fireballs and plumes of smoke shooting skyward.
The plant is Russia’s largest producer of alumina, a raw material that is smelted into aluminum.
The TASS news agency reported that a Russian soldier was killed, though a Defense Ministry source disputed the information about the death, according to the RIA news outlet.
There were reports of soldiers from a military base next to the depot hiding in a bomb shelter and unable to escape, according to the Siberian Times.
“The territory is cordoned, soldiers can’t yet get out of the bomb shelter because explosions continue,” a press service official told Interfax Sibir.
Achinsk Mayor Ilay Akhmetov said the city’s 100,000 residents were being prepared for evacuation.
Loading operations remained on schedule at the oil giant Rosneft’s Achinsk oil refinery about 18 miles away from the site, TASS quoted a refinery spokesman as saying.
A source told TASS that the depot held up to 40,000 artillery shells for tank guns.
Ammunition storage site explosions are not unusual in Russia. After the most recent incident in May 2018, a fire raged for almost a week before water drops from military planes and choppers helped put out the blaze.