Suspect Charged over Orenburg Munitions Blast

MOSCOW, October 11 (RIA Novosti) – A conscript soldier has been charged with violating safety regulations that led to a recent explosion at a military ammunition disposal site in the Orenburg region, investigators said on Thursday.

More than 4,000 tons of ammunition exploded at the Donguz disposal site on Tuesday, injuring an officer and forcing the temporary evacuation of residents from nearby villages.

According to investigators, Private Alexander Kasatkin confessed that he smoked a cigarette with one of his mates during disposal work at the site in violation of safety regulations.

“He dropped a cigarette butt on the ground without making sure that it was extinguished,” the 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 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.

Following the Orenburg blast, the Russian lawmakers have sent queries to Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov demanding explanations about poor handling of munitions during their disposal and asking the Defense Ministry to take urgent measures to prevent such incidents in the future.

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