3 Missing in Bulgaria after Ammunition Depot Explosions

Society | June 5, 2012, Tuesday // 20:41|  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

Three people are missing after the incident in which an ammunition depot exploded near the city of Sliven in Southeastern Bulgaria, Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov announced late Tuesday night.

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.

The Interior Minister spoke after 8 pm, after attending a crisis meeting together with Defense Minister Anyu Angelov and the District Governors of Sliven and Yambol.

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.

The ad hoc crisis headquarters team has decided to send a Plasan Sand Cat armored vehicle into the ammunition storage facility of the Bereta Trading firm in order to seek the three missing persons.

Bulgaria's Interior Minister said also that the authorities have established the identities of those missing, and that their relatives will be notified.

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.

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