14:32 23.03.2017

Some 20,000 evacuated from Balaklia, villages in Kharkiv region, damage reports being updated

2 min read
Some 20,000 evacuated from Balaklia, villages in Kharkiv region, damage reports being updated

Residents of Balaklia and nearby villages in the Kharkiv region evacuated due to the ongoing explosions at artillery ammo depots of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry will be accommodated at schools and social facilities of the region, head of the Kharkiv regional state administration Yulia Svitlychna said.

"I have set tasks at the operative staff meeting to prepare those facilities for taking in the evacuees. Material aid to the evacuees is also being considered. We will be able to discuss reconstruction only after this fire is contained," the administration quoted Svitlychna's words on Thursday.

Evacuation is in progress in Balaklia and two villages in the ammo depots' vicinity - Verbivka and Yakovenkove, the authorities said, adding that bed-ridden seniors were being moved to Kalynivka in the company of doctors.

About 20,000 people have been evacuated from the five-kilometer danger zone, Svitlychna said in a program aired by the 112.Ukraine TV channel.

"I can say for the record that we do not have a single casualty, no one has been injured in the explosions or in relation to them as of this moment," Svitlychna said.

"I am so far unable assess the damage inflicted on the town, however, the scope of destruction is insignificant," she said.

According to the Kharkiv state regional administration, the State Emergency Service has assigned 55 water trucks, 24 auxiliary vehicles, and 362 servicemen to deal with the situation. Twenty-five ambulance vehicles staffed by more than 100 paramedics, and 40 vehicles and over 150 officers of the National Police have joined the operation.

Two firefighting trains are on standby at the rail station.

Explosions at ammunition depots near Balaklia in the Kharkiv region began in the small hours of March 23.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak said earlier that an act of sabotage could be the probable cause of the fire and explosions at the ammo depots.

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