At 2 a.m. on March 23 there occurred a fire followed by detonation of munition in the territory of a military ammunition depot of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, in the town Balakliia, Kharkiv region. There are being observed blasts of varying intensity. The State Emergency Service engages in evacuation of citizens from the town and nearby settlements — the villages of Verbivka and Yakovenkove. There have been deployed 6 evacuation stations that accommodate people. For the rescue and evacuation operations there are used 74 buses and 24 ambulance vehicles. As of 10 a.m. on March 23, there had been evacuated 19 thousand citizens. This was announced by Deputy Director of the SES Emergency Response Department Petro Korotynsky.
“On the current information, there are no casualties at the site of the accident. To prevent emergency situations within the affected area electricity and gas supplies have been cut off. Railway passenger traffic through “Balaklia” is temporarily suspended. In the nearby areas road traffic is prohibited. At the railway station “Shebelynka” two fire-fighting trains are on standby”, said Petro Korotynsky.
According to the Deputy Director of the SES Emergency Response Department, the headquarters on liquidating of the consequences of the emergency have been deployed with head of Kharkiv regional state administration Yulia Svitlychna as its chair. An emergency response team of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine headed by the acting Chairman of the SES Oleh Melchutsky is operating on the ground. There had already been convened an extraordinary meeting of the regional Commission for technogenic and environmental safety and emergency situations in what the staff adopted a number of top priority measures on protection of population and territories, including to continue the evacuation of citizens.
The SES has assigned 330 rescuers and 55 vehicles to deal with the situation. In total, about 500 people and 150 specialized vehicles are engaged to eliminate the consequences of the accident. The National police of Ukraine also joined the activities.
As was reported earlier, Minister of Defense of Ukraine General of the Army of Ukraine Stepan Poltorak during a briefing in Kyiv stressed there hadn’t been inflicted extensive damage to the country's defense capacity as a result of the accident at the military depot. According to him, Ukraine's Armed Forces possess sufficient stockpiles of ammunition and weapons to carry out military tasks.
Currently all necessary measures are being taken to contain the fire and prevent victims among the civilian population.