The fire on the military arsenal in the city of Balakliya started at about 3 a.m. early on Thursday. The ammunition began detonating very quickly. The rescue workers sat that the blasts are happening on the technical territory of the arsenal, but the one off sprays are happening as well.
The biggest arsenal in the country is situated in Balakliya, it is called the 65th arsenal. Its passport capacity is 150 thousand tons, however mass media have repeatedly stated that the arsenal is overpacked.
The Defense Ministry insists that the information is secret, but the Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak noted that a significant part of the ammunition were varied out of there for ATO needs.
Now 250 rescuers teams and 50 units of equipment are involved into the consequence management. National reserve forces and equipment are on the state of alert, pyrotechnical estimates are in progress.
Emergency response center has been delpoyed on the scene of the emergency situation. Deputy Defense minister Ihor Pavlovsky, officers of the Ministry, the Staff General officers and the Prime Minister arrived at the scene.
Almost 20 000 people are evacuated from Balakliya due to the blasts on ammunition depot at Kharkiv region. Kharkiv regional police started working clock round after explosion in Balakliya.
Schools and kindergartens are temporarily closed.
THe air traffic is temporarily closed within a radius of 40 km.
The State Border Guard Service has tightened security measured on the Eastern section of the state border.
REASONS OF THE FIRE
According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, the reason for the fire is a sabotage. According to Stepan Poltorak, the Defense Minister, the blow up was made in the place where the shells for the tanks are stored. He noted that the time for the sabotage was specifically set for 2:45 a.m., when the guards shift.
Poltorak explained that the perimeter of the base is very big, several kilometers, and it's very hard to control the whole territory. Daily guard squads are almost 100 people since the last year, after the safety checks were performed.
"This is not the first accident in Balakliya. The first on happened in December 2015. Acting accurately (this happened at night, we timely noticed it, because there was fire first) we prevented serious consequences. Unfortunately, today the blasts occurred first, which last until this moment. Apart from that, i'd like to inform you that the blasts didn't affect the county's defensive capacity significantly," the Minister said.
The Ukraine’s chief military prosecutor Anatoly Matios reported that the fire-fighting operations can not be performed on the ammunition depot in Bakaliya. He also spoke of the sound reminding the flight of the unmanned flying object, heard before the blast, after that the blasts occurred in two spots of one site
The law enforcers are checking all the possible versions, the priority version is sabotage, the second one s negligence of the state
About 50% of the territory of the artillery depot in Balakliya are on fire, according to the Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman.
"Technically the depot was equipped on a pretty high level. And that's why even more questions rise, what could be the reason,"said Groysman.
The fire is not localized yet. The Defense Ministry doesn't provide any forecast as for the liquidation as everything depends on the wind direction, fragmentation and affection of the storage facilities.
"We have a lot of steel and concrete constructions. I hope that they withstand the load. Now open storages suffer the most," Poltorak explained.
Police say that there is no panic in the city. Evacuation zone is 10 kilometers.
Powerful blasts are underway.
The video from the drone is now available.
The emergency situation in Balakliya will be liquidated in three stages. Gennadiy Zubko, Ukrainian Vice-Prime Minister, published a mechanism.
He announced that first the fire needs to be liquidated, then the logistics of providing help to the victims and their evacuation should be organized. After that the de-mining of the depot and restoring of the damaged facilities in the result of explosions and fire.
Now the supplies of glass, asbestos slates, timber are being prepared to be delivered from Dnipropestrovsk region," Zubko wrote.
The intensity of the explosions has decreased. Now authorities can at least try to assess the extent of the damage and begin preparing for localization. This was reported by the press service of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.
As of 18:00, the decrease in the intensity of the explosions also makes it possible to estimate the scale of the event.
"According to the representative of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine as of 18.00, the intensity of the explosions has decreased, which allows us to assess the scale of the event and is preparing to proceed with the localization of the event," was reported.
More than 100 servicemen continue to patrol in the city and adjacent villages. To improve the work of the coordination staff, about 300 officers of the Kharkiv National Air Force University were involved.
Also Petro Poroshenko instructed urgently to attract NATO assistance for mine clearance in Balakliya. This assignment was received by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defense and the State Emergency Service.
"I instructed the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Defense and the State Emergency Situations Service to attract NATO assistance for humanitarian demining in Balakliya," he wrote.