Huge explosions rock Serbia munitions factory, forcing evacuation
A series of explosions have rocked a military munitions factory in central Serbia, forcing the evacuation of nearby residents. The blasts occurred at an ammunition depot of the Sloboda factory in Čačak, about 140 kilometres south of Belgrade, on Friday, 4 June 2021. The explosions set off a series of detonations and caused a huge fire that lit the night sky above the town. Officials say fire fighters will be able to go into the factory 24 hours after the last detonation to assess the situation.
The factory produces home appliances as well as artillery ammunition, propellants and explosives. A series of blasts caused a large fireball to light up the night sky, which could be seen from several miles away.
Police and fire fighters worked quickly to move local residents and employees away from the factory and closed several roads leading towards the plant. The strongest explosion erupted at 03h20am and shook literally the entire city. Another powerful explosion followed at 15h22. Police said they had sealed off the area and blocked roads into Čačak.
Ambulances were sent to the scene but they could not approach the factory for security reasons. There is an unbearable smell in the city, a Novosti reporter said.
According to unofficial information, a warehouse with artillery shells first caught fire and then the fire spread to other warehouses. The damage is great, only ash will remain from the factory, a local newspaper reported.
It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion. Serbia's Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin said in a statement that the situation is "under control" and "everything is safe". All sixty workers at the factory were unhurt, Vulin added.
"We were lucky the explosion didn’t take place in the production halls," Čačak Mayor Milun Todorovic told state RTS television.
The plant at Sloboda was targeted and badly damaged during the NATO bombing campaign of Serbia in 1999.
Sources: Euro News, World Today News