Several firefighters are feared to have died in a huge explosion at a fuel depot outside the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, on June 9. The subsequent fire was described as “gigantic” by the country’s interior minister, Arsen Avakov. Three firefighters are missing and at least 11 people injured, according to local media, with one of these reported to have died of his injuries.
Residents living within two kilometres of the site have been ordered to evacuate, according to a Ukrainian government statement, with the possibility that this could be extended to 10 kilometres as the likelihood of further blasts is high.
The Interior Ministry said police were investigating three possible causes for the fire. These included violations of fuel storage regulations, technical malfunctions or arson. BRSM-Nafta, which owns and operates the depot, said in a statement it believed the fire was the result of an arson attack.
Of the 16 fuel tanks affected, eight had a capacity of 900 cubic metres, while the rest were smaller in volume, the emergency ministry said. The overall capacity of the depot is 25,000 cubic metres.
Emergency services are trying to prevent the spread of the fire to another fuel depot 100 metres away.The defence ministry also said it was also taking emergency measures to prevent the flames engulfing a nearby military airbase which has MiG-29 fighter jets and munitions on site.