MOSCOW, June 19 (RIA Novosti) - Over 30 people sought medical help, 11 were hospitalized and more than 6,000 local residents were evacuated on Tuesday from a village near an ammunition depot in central Russia where a fire caused massive explosions of stored artillery shells, the Russian Emergencies Ministry said.
The fire at the Volga Federal Ammunition Testing Site in the Samara Region broke out late Tuesday, followed by a series of explosions that continue to rock the area, sending shrapnel to a distance of up to a kilometer from the site, according to the ministry.
A ministry spokesman told RIA Novosti the depot stores some 6,000 122-mm artillery shells as well as other ammunition and explosives, and, in the worst case scenario, the blasts could continue for two or three days.
Prosecutors are conducting a probe into the incident. Investigators said a wildfire could have caused the fire at the testing range.
The Emergencies Ministry said there was no chemical threat to the population.
More than 1,400 personnel and over 220 units of machinery and equipment, including eight aircraft and two firefighting trains, have been deployed to contain the fire and explosions, the ministry said. There are plans to use four helicopters.
The incident is the latest in a string of fires and explosions at munitions storage and disposal sites that have plagued Russia in the past two years.
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