Posted22 October 2021, 11:18
More than 170 firefighters and rescuers were mobilized to control the fire. The cause would be a “violation of technological processes” and “safety standards”.
A fire ravaged an explosives factory in western Russia on Friday, killing at least 16 people and one missing. The incident occurred in a workshop at the Elastik industrial site, specializing in the manufacture of industrial explosives and ammunition, and located in the Ryazan region, about 200 km south of Moscow.
The Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations indicated that the fire broke out during “a technical process”, without giving further details. Regional authorities initially reported 15 dead, but later announced that a man hospitalized with severe burns had died of his injuries.
“Officially, 16 people died in this incident,” the government of the Ryazan region said in a statement. “The fate of a person remains unknown, the emergency services are looking for her,” he said. In all, 170 rescuers and dozens of fire engines were dispatched to the scene. Russian Interim Minister for Emergency Situations Alexander Tchuprian also visited.
According to its website, Elastik is considered a “strategic enterprise” by the Russian government and is owned by the state-owned Rostec conglomerate, which supplies industrial and high-tech products to the civilian and military sectors. After going bankrupt in 2015, Elastik’s workshops have been used since 2017 by other companies active in the explosives sector, according to the Interfax news agency.
The workshop concerned was completely destroyed by flames, according to rescuers. They released images of smoke floating above a partially blown up construction and charred debris. The site appears to be in the middle of a forest. The Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations stressed that the populations of neighboring localities were not in danger.
The fire may have been caused by a “violation of technological processes” and “security standards”, according to a source within the police, cited by Interfax. The Russian Investigation Committee, in charge of the main criminal cases, has also announced the opening of an investigation for “violation of safety rules on a dangerous site”.
Accidental and deadly explosions or fires are common in Russia, due to the dilapidated infrastructure, often Soviet, or non-compliance with safety standards. In December 2020, eleven people were killed in a fire inside a nursing home in the Urals region. In January 2020, eleven and four people died in separate fires in Tomsk and Moscow, in homes for migrants.
The most serious fire in recent years was in 2018, when 64 people died after flames ravaged a shopping center, whose alarm systems and emergency exits were inoperative. In St. Petersburg, it is a historic factory, the Nevsky factory, which was destroyed by fire in April 2021. The dilapidated and partially abandoned building housed in particular industrial workshops but also offices.
Accidents in factories, explosives or fireworks storage sites are also quite common in Russia, especially in the army ammunition depot. In October 2020, a brush fire caused a fire and powerful explosions at an ammunition depot in the Ryazan region, resulting in the evacuation of around 2,000 people from neighboring villages. This type of disaster can last for days.