Servicemen injured in Ashuluk explosion under surgeries in Astrakhan.

ASTRAKHAN, August 23 (Itar-Tass) —— The Astrakhan regional clinic is doing surgeries on servicemen heavily injured in the Tuesday explosion at the Ashuluk training range.

“Initially, we admitted six servicemen. One of them was transferred to the Caspian flotilla hospital later because he had medium injuries,” clinic representative Dmitry Chuikov told Itar-Tass. He could not say whether the servicemen were conscripts or joined the Armed Forces on contract.

“Surgeries are being done, and all the necessary assistance is being given. Most of the injuries are severe,” he said.

The explosion killed six servicemen and injured more than ten. The Astrakhan regional clinic admitted servicemen with the worst injuries, and the rest were taken to the Caspian flotilla hospital in Astrakhan. A helicopter delivered the injured servicemen to Astrakhan.

The Russian Defense Ministry confirms six deaths in the explosions at the Ashuluk training range in the Astrakhan region, the ministry spokesman said.

“Six servicemen died and twelve were injured in the disposal of old munitions at the Ashuluk training range of the Southern Military District in the Astrakhan region at around 5:00 p.m. Moscow time on Tuesday. The defense minister formed a commission led by Southern Military District Commander Col. Gen. Alexander Galkin to investigate the accident,” he said.

All detectives of the Caspian flotilla investigation department have been sent to Ashuluk, a representative of the Main Military Investigation Department of the Russian Investigation Committee told Itar-Tass.

All the theories of the Tuesday explosion will be pondered, the Main Military Prosecutor’s Office told Itar-Tass.

“Military prosecutors of the Southern Military District are verifying the compliance with laws on the preservation of life and health of servicemen, fire safety rules and safety in the disposal of munitions,” he said.

“Military prosecutor of the Southern Military District Lt. Gen. Vladimir Milovanov is visiting the accident scene together with a group of colleagues,” assistant to the district prosecutor Natif Gadzhimedov told Itar-Tass.

The compliance of the military unit with the rules of the disposal of munitions will be verified, he said.

Some sources said that the explosion happened in the disposal of munitions, while other said that the munitions detonated in transportation.

Military detectives and forensic experts of the Russian Investigation Committee have gone to the Ashuluk training range in the Astrakhan region, Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told Itar-Tass earlier.

“A helicopter is taking a group of military detectives and forensic experts of the Russian Investigation Committee to the explosion scene at the Defense Ministry’s training range in Ashuluk. They will start pre-trial investigation,” Markin said.

This is the second accident at Ashuluk over the past year. Neglect of fire safety rules led to a fire and explosion of a 76-millimeter artillery projectile on April 11. The explosion killed a serviceman.

Commander of the Ashuluk combined company disposing of munitions Andrei Stribizhev was charged with causing death by negligence.

Ashuluk was established on May 25, 1960, as the research and training range of air defense forces. It is located 110 kilometers north of Astrakhan.

In recent years the training range has become the constant host of the Combat Commonwealth air defense and air force exercises of CIS member countries.

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