Ukraine has lost many shells and other types of heavy artillery ammunition, including 122mm rockets for Grad multiple rocket launchers, because of a fire at an ammunition depot near the town of Ichnya in Chernihiv region, Ukraine's north.
"A launcher booster – a fire – an explosion – shells are blown apart," Ukrainian journalist Yuriy Butusov described the chain reaction of the incident.
The most damaged storage facilities are those storing 120mm mortar shells, which are very valuable and "popular" ammunition, as well as 122mm howitzer shells, 125mm tank shells, and 122mm Grad rockets, he said. Other types of ammunition were not affected.
"The fire is being extinguished, everything is done from the very first minutes, about 10,000 people were evacuated in the morning, many have departed on their own. It's not necessary to explain them much after ammo explosions in the village of Kalynivka [Vinnytsia region] and the town of Balaklia [Kharkiv region]," the journalist said.
He also said the 6th arsenal was considered to be one of the relatively secure warehouses due to its control and trace strip. "There were problems similar those in the army itself – inefficient planning, poor personnel policy, the lack of manpower and funding. I have only one theory behind the incident – an act of sabotage," Butusov added.
There have been no reports on casualties yet.
Member of Parliament and adviser to Ukraine's Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko told a TV Channel that the ammunition that exploded in Chernihiv region was Ukraine's strategic reserve and Ukraine does not produce such types of shells and rockets. The loss is estimated at hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars, he said.
The detonation of the ammunition led to the fire and destruction of buildings and facilities in the territory of Ichnya, Chernihiv Regional State Administration's civil defense department told UNIAN.
The electricity and gas supply was reportedly cut off in the affected area.
The Pryluky-Bakhmach railway service was suspended.
The evacuation of local residents is under way, 35 buses are involved. About 12,000 people have already been bused. In total, around 20,000 people live in the risk zone.
The first ammo depot explosions were reported at 03:30 Kyiv time on October 9.
Deputy head of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Rodion Tymoshenko said that the fire at the 6th arsenal near the village of Druzhba in Chernihiv region's Ichnya district started with four explosions in a warehouse.
"A group of the General Staff that has interviewed duty officers at the posts reports that they have confirmed the fact of explosions in four places in the arsenal," he said at a briefing in Kyiv on October 9.