16 people dead following blast at Russian gunpowder factory
An explosion and fire at a gunpowder factory in Russia has killed at least sixteen people on Friday, 22 October 2021, regional officials said. The incident occurred at the site of the Elastik factory, which specialises in the manufacture of industrial explosives for civilian use. The explosion occurred in the village of Lesnoy in Shilovsky District, about 270 kilometres southeast of Moscow. A fire broke out at the factory in the Ryazan region after a "technological process", according to Russia's Emergency Ministry. Seven people were initially reported to have been killed but the death toll rose to sixteen later on Friday morning. One other person was seriously injured and taken to hospital for treatment. More than 170 fire fighters and rescue workers were dispatched to the scene to control the fire.
According to rescue workers, the workshop affected by the fire was completely destroyed. The disaster wiped out practically the entire shift of 17 workers who were on site at the time, according to a list of names posted on social media.
A video showed the moment of the explosion, with a huge yellow fireball rising into the air and photos of the aftermath showed a scene of total destruction, with smoke still rising from the rubble. "There is no threat to the population" of the nearby settlements, the ministry said in a statement.
Images from the scene showed smoke billowing over a partially blown-out building and charred debris.
Russia's acting Emergency Situations Minister, Alexander Chuprian, also visited the scene.
According to their website, the factory also has "production capacity" for ammunition. Elastik says it is considered a "strategic enterprise" by the Russian Government and belongs to the state-owned Rostec conglomerate, which groups together a host of companies supplying industrial and high-tech products to the civilian and military sectors.
Officials are investigating potential violations of safety procedures or a short circuit among possible causes.
Accidental and deadly explosions or fires are common in Russia, due to the dilapidated infrastructure, or the failure to comply with safety standards.
In December 2020, eleven people died in a fire inside a retirement home in the Urals region.
Earlier that year, eleven and four people died in separate fires in Tomsk and Moscow in migrant accommodation.
The worst fire in recent years occurred in 2018, when 64 people died after flames engulfed a shopping centre, whose alarm systems and emergency exits were inoperable.
Source: Euro News, Reuters