An army conscript has been charged with causing this week’s explosion at a military ammunition disposal site in Russia’s Urals region, investigators said on Thursday.
More than 4,000 tons of ammunition exploded at a disposal site in Russia’s Orenburg region on Tuesday, injuring an officer and forcing the temporary evacuation of residents from nearby villages.
Investigators said Private Alexander Kasatkin had confessed to smoking as the munitions were being unloaded from trains, in violation of safety regulations.
“He dropped a cigarette butt on the ground without making sure that it was extinguished,” investigators said. “Ten minutes later several crates with munitions caught fire.”
Kasatkin faces three years in prison if convicted.
The Orenburg blast was the latest in a series of incidents involving the poor handling of munitions at disposal sites and firing ranges across Russia in the last few years.
On September 26, an officer was killed by an ammunition blast at the Totsky range, 180 km northwest of Orenburg.
Six soldiers were killed on May 2 in an explosion at a military training center near Nizhny Novgorod, some 400 kilometers east of the capital, Moscow.
In June 2011, huge explosions shook an ammunition depot in Russia’s Urals republic of Udmurtia, leaving 95 people injured.