On May 10, the chief military prosecutor of Ukraine Anatolii Matios reported on the preliminary investigation results of the recent explosions at the military depot in Balakliya town, Kharkiv region.
Matios stated that the main theories regarding the causes for the fire in the ammunition depot, which is the largest in Ukraine, were either a stray spark, detonation of some artillery remnants or the violation of the safety rules of de-mining.
The ammunition explosions at the depot started on May 3, at about 1:40 p.m. on the site of the “65th arsenal” military unit of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine in Balakliya. Dry grass was burning and subsequent single detonation of ammunition took place in an area of about 35 hectares. Some local residents at nearby houses were evacuated. The fire was extinguished by 5 p.m. on May 8.
“There are no signs of external blasts or subversive acts,” says the military prosecutor. “We are currently conducting criminal proceedings to establish the cause.” Matios points out that the cause of the fire in Balakliya can be revealed exclusively after thorough expertise investigations. Meanwhile, the case is opened for criminal negligence.
Reference: Kharkiv Observer reminds that this is not the first accident in Balakliya arsenal. On the night of March 23, 2017, a mass detonation of projectiles took place in the military unit. About 20,000 people were evacuated then, electricity and gas supply were disconnected in the town and the nearby villages. Passenger railway traffic was also stopped. The fire was extinguished and demining was completed within three days. The explosion was claimed to be a diversion act by a hostile reconnaissance group. After diversion at artillery depots near Balakliya, security measures were strengthened at all military depots of Ukraine.
Text: Olena Sokolynska