Kiev evac­u­ates hun­dreds from site of deadly blasts

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY OLGA SHYLENKO

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.

AP

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.

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