Kiev evacuates hundreds from site of deadly blasts
Ukraine urgently evacuated hundreds of residents Tuesday from the site of a series of fuel depot blasts near Kiev that set off a ferocious fire and left several people missing and at least one confirmed dead.
The defense ministry said it was also taking emergency measures to prevent the flames engulfing a nearby military airbase which has MiG-29 fighter jets and munitions on site.
Security Council Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov and Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak rushed to the scene to oversee the rescue operations.
“We are facing a serious threat ... because 50 meters from the edge of the fire, we have a military installation stocked with an arsenal,” Turchynov said in televised comments.
The interior ministry said at least one person had perished in the conflagration in a leafy town called Vasylkiv about 30 kilo- meters (20 miles) southwest Ukraine’s capital Kiev.
Fourteen people — including seven rescue workers — were being treated for burns and other injuries.
The lightning speed with which
of the flames spread to neighboring petrol stations and fuel tanks resulted in initial confusion among emergency workers and contradictory toll reports.
Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said officials were still trying to establish contact with three of the 30 firemen who were initially sent to the spot of the first blast.
But more explosions soon followed and dozens of additional fire engines and ambulances were dispatched to the scene, where thick black smoke billowed into the sky.
An AFP reporter saw three underground fuel storage tanks on fire within a few hundred meters of the initial accident.
Videos posted on the Internet showed the force of the first explosion and the heat wave it produced setting ablaze several fire engines and ambulances that had been rushed to the scene.
A fireman wearing a silver heatresistant suit and mask was seen running away from the disaster for his own safety.
“Everyone — leave. Whoever is still here — leave,” one fireman said in a video.
Ukraine’s emergencies ministry began evacuating residents living within two kilometers of the fuel depots.
In this late Monday, June 8 handout photo made available by the Ukrainian Emergency Situations Ministry press service on Tuesday, June 9, Ukrainian firefighters extinguish fire at a fuel depot near Hlevaha, Kiev county, Ukraine.