Transsiberian railway partly shut due to arms depot blast

by Reuters
Tuesday, 29 April 2014 17:03 GMT

(Adds number of injured, background)

MOSCOW, April 29 (Reuters) - A section of Russia's Transsiberian railway was temporarily shut on Tuesday due to a fire and explosions at a nearby munitions depot, Russian Railways said, injuring nine people.

The blaze broke out at the munitions depot near Bolshaya Tura village, some 6,200 km southeast of Moscow, caused by a wildfire raging nearby. More than 1,000 residents were evacuated, the local Emergencies Ministry said, and nine people were injured, the local government said.

The railroad operator said trains between Chita and Karymskaya had been temporarily stopped for "security reasons".

Four passenger trains were halted on the route and passengers were provided food and support, the ministry said.

The fire appeared to have been contained after no new blasts were heard for a while, a Defence Ministry spokesman told Rossyia-24 TV.

The railway, linking Russia's western regions with Far Eastern ports, is an export route for Russian commodities.

Russian coal exports to the Asia-Pacific region account for up to a third of supplies through the Transsiberian railway. Oil and oil products make up 20 percent and construction and woodworking goods account for up to 10 percent, according to analyst data.

The railway is also used for supplies of some grain and metals. Fires at munitions depots happen frequently in the former Soviet Union and are often blamed on negligence. (Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov and Polina Devitt; Writing by Alexei Anishchuk; Editing by Nigel Stephenson and Alison Williams)

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