Residents of the Russian city of Achinsk are sharing photos and videos of what happened after an explosion at a military warehouse sent munitions flying 15 kilometres towards them.
The Logistics Support Centre in Kamenka, just south of Achinsk, erupted into a fireball Monday afternoon, with a series of explosions continuing for hours. Many residents of Kamenka, which has about 1,000 people, and Achinsk, which has about 100,000, evacuated.
Katerina Radenko, who lives in Krasnoyarsk but grew up in the area, shared a video of herself fleeing from the city in which she can be heard saying:
Everything is burning. In Kamenka there are rocket materials that started to explode burst by burst. We passed Kamenka three minutes ago and everything is heavy smoke. It's not the first heavy smoke. We are getting out of here fast.
Radenko spoke about her experience with the France 24 Observers team:
I was visiting my parents in Achinsk. Around 5:15pm is when I heard the first explosions. Currently I am in the city of Nazarovo. After the first explosion we evacuated ourselves… The evacuation started too late and people evacuated without waiting for other information. Those who could not leave by car jumped out on the road in hopes of stopping a car
I grew up here and have many relatives in Achinsk. Many people knew that in Kamenka and in Malyy Uluy there were military units, but we could not have assumed that they would explode.
In the afternoon and evening photos and videos of long lines of cars waiting to leave the city were posted by residents on the Russian social network VKontakte. The local government also posted pictures of buses it had sent to help the evacuation effort.
One of the chief dangers was ammunition flying kilometres from the Kamenka weapons depot. VKontakte users shared videos including clips of a weapon having destroyed the front of a man’s car and damage done to the ceiling of a clothing store at a local mall.
“Shells flew into the Achinsk region, though I did not see any shells in the centre of the city ... There were a lot of shells that were seen by people. I think that there will be even more in the fields and the forests around.”
Alexey Nikulnikov posted avideo of the weapon he found right outside of Achinsk, which was lying in the middle of the road next to a large hole made by other debris. Nikulnikov shared with France 24 the location where he took the video, which is roughly 14 kilometres from Kamenka.
Nikulnikov said that there were searches underway for unexploded ordnances that had fallen in the city.
The road between Nazarovo and Achinsk was blocked off as of Tuesday morning, though authorities at the Russian Defense Ministry said Tuesday afternoon that firefighters had extinguished the blaze and stopped explosions of the munitions at the facility. Authorities also sent that had been being used to fight recent wildfires in the Siberian forest to Kamenka to help.
Russia’s Investigative Committee confirmed Tuesday that at least one person had been killed as a result of the explosion, and said it was opening a criminal inquiry into what set off the blasts. The extent of damage to Kamenka and Achinsk was not immediately clear.