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Investigators Seeking Cause Of Russian Explosives Plant Blast

A still image, taken from video footage, shows smoke rising from the site of blasts at an explosives plant in the town of Dzerzhinsk.
A still image, taken from video footage, shows smoke rising from the site of blasts at an explosives plant in the town of Dzerzhinsk.

Regional authorities say emergency rescue operations have been completed following a series of massive blasts that devastated an explosives plant in central Russia, and investigators are seeking the cause of the accident.

Emergency Situations Ministry official Valery Sinkov told reporters at the site on June 2 that “the emergency rescue operation has been completed. Now work is in place to remove the effects linked to the damage of buildings and evaluate the situation."

He added that some 700 personnel and 150 vehicles responded to the June 1 disaster.

The Russian Health Ministry said on June 2 that 89 people, including 44 employees of the Kristall plant in the town of Dzerzhinsk, have been seeking medical help following the explosions.

The ministry said one woman remains in serious condition.

Emergency officials said 39 workers and 46 local residents were injured in the blast that sent shock waves through the city of Dzerzhinsk and neighboring communities of Pyra and Zhelnino, about 400 kilometers east of Moscow.

A health official said most victims were suffering from "shrapnel wounds of mild and moderate severity." Officials said there appeared to have been three explosions.

The BBC quoted local officials as saying the factory was used to make and store high-explosive bombs for the military. It said the processing facility at the plant had been destroyed in the blast.

Windows were shattered and scores of buildings were damaged. It was the second such incident at the plant in two months.

The Interfax news agency said the plant director had been fired "literally a day before" for violating safety rules earlier in the year. The director was blamed for an explosion that occurred in April.

A local news site, V Gorode N, published video of a car driver passing by the plant, and sound waves from the explosions echoed through the countryside.

Dmitry Krasnov, deputy governor of the Nizhny Novgorod region, told state TV that at least two people were missing.

The Nizhny Novgorod governor’s office said that people injured in the explosions will receive about $2,235 each in compensation from the regional and Dzerzhinsk town funds.

Owned by the state conglomerate Rostec, the facility is decades old and is now a major producer of explosives and related equipment for military and civilian industrial purposes.

V Gorode N said the blasts were the second such incident at the factory in two months. On April 4, an explosion destroyed a workshop facility at the plant. No injuries were reported at the time.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Russian Service, the BBC, Interfax, TASS, and AFP

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