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Thousands evacuated after explosions at Ukrainian ammo depot

Emergency workers evacuate local residents after a fire and explosions hit the Ukrainian defence ministry ammunition depot in the eastern Chernigov region, in the settlement of Druzhba, Ukraine October 9, 2018. The State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE. BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE

Around 10,000 people were evacuated after a fire and explosions hit a defence ministry ammunition depot 176 kms (109 miles) east of the Ukrainian capital Kiev early on Tuesday morning, officials said.

There was no mention of any casualties and it was not immediately clear whether the explosions were an accident or sabotage.

The airspace in a 20 km (12 miles) radius has been closed and road and rail transport suspended. Hundreds of people have been deployed to the site, a statement by the emergency services said, and the head of Ukraine’s armed forces has gone there.

There have been several large fires at ammunition and weapons depots in recent years, an additional drain on Ukraine’s military, which has been fighting Russian-backed separatists in eastern regions since 2014.

“About 10 thousand people were evacuated,” the statement by the emergency services said. “From 04:22 am (0122 GMT) the airspace within a radius of 20 km has been closed. The movement of rail and road transport is suspended.”

Last year massive explosions at a military depot in the Vynnytsya region, 270 km west of Kiev, forced the authorities to evacuate 24,000 people.

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