Bulgarian Interior, Defense Chiefs Disembark at Blasted Ammo Site

Defense | June 5, 2012, Tuesday // 20:06|  views

Medical units from the local hospitals and Sofia were rushed to the site of the privately-owned ammo depot which exploded in Southeastern Bulgaria Tuesday. Photo by BGNES

Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov and Defense Minister Anyu Angelov have arrived on the spot of the incident in which an ammunition depot exploded near the city of Sliven in Southeastern Bulgaria Tuesday afternoon.

The blasts at the ammo site near the Petolachkata road junction close to Sliven occurred at 2:40 pm on Tuesday, injuring at least 7 people, two of them critically. The facility in question is the property of a Sofia-based firm, Bereta Trading, which uses it to dismantle munitions – including shells from the Chelopechene military depot near Sofia that exploded in July 2008.

Tsvetanov and Angelov were sent to Sliven, which they reached Tuesday night, by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov with the task to investigate the causes of the blasts.

Up until late Tuesday night, no high-ranking Bulgarian official had made any statements as to what may have caused the explosions. Likewise, the owner of Bereta Trading, Desislav Delev only told the media the site contained "no dangerous substances" but had not commented on what brought about the blasts.

In addition to the two ministers, the authorities in Sofia rushed four special medical units on the site whose members checked the condition of the ten injured people.

As the explosions at the Bereta Trading depot continued into the evening, the authorities moved to evacuate the 630 residents of Gorno Alexandrovo, while also considering the evacuation of another nearby village, Lozenets.

According to Prof. Nikolay Miloshev, Director of the Geophysics Institute at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the blasts near Sliven caused an earthquake with a magnitude of 1.5 on the Richter Scale.

His statement came early Tuesday night, after earlier the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences announced it had registered no earthquake that might have caused the blasts. Meanwhile, the blasts did cause panic among the local population, with the people mistaken the explosions for an earthquake in the wake of the 5.8-6.0-magnitude earthquake that jolted Sofia and Western Bulgaria on May 22, 2012.

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