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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Soldier charged over Russian Urals arms depot fire

RIA Novosti

10:58 27/05/2011 UFA, May 27 (RIA Novosti) - A soldier is facing criminal charges over a fire at an ammunition depot at a military base in the Russian Urals, investigators said on Friday.

The fire broke out on Thursday when 120-mm artillery shells exploded in the loading area of the depot some 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the republic of Bashkortοstan's capital of Ufa.

About 2,500 people were evacuated from the village of Urman over the threat posed by exploding shells that scattered around the area, injuring at least eight people and setting fire to houses and trees. More than 50 buildings, including 14 residential houses, were destroyed or damaged as a result.

Private Sergei Denyayev has been charged with "a violation of weapon handling rules," the Russian Investigative Committee said in a statement published on its website on Friday.

Denyayev, together with other soldiers, was involved in repackaging shells at the depot, the statement said.

"In violation of security rules, he threw a shell with a detonator in with other repackaged shells, which resulted in a detonation and the explosion of the shells," the statement reads.

Local officials said on Friday the damaged caused by the fire may exceed 100 million rubles ($3.5 million).

On Thursday, Rustem Khamitov, the head of Bashkortοstan, ordered the construction of new houses for an estimated 116 people left homeless as a result of the fire.

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