Fire and Subsequent Explosions
Three explosions rocked the "Kristall" TNT plant in the town of Dzerzhinsk, Russia with the first one being reported at around 12:26 local time (09:26 UTC). The company "Kristall" issued a statement saying that a fire had caused the explosions and that the five employees, who were working in the affected section of the factory were evacuated. The blasts have caused substantial damage to five of the plant's buildings.
Following the blasts, the fire expanded from the TNT plant to one of the nearby buildings, reportedly threatening new explosions. The overall fire zone had been estimated at around 100 square metres, but it was later brought under full control.
Local emergency services reported that the windows in nearby buildings had been shattered as a result of the blasts, but the buildings themselves remained intact. The surrounding infrastructure and communications were also untouched by the explosion. According to the latest measurements, both the concentration of air pollutants and the radiation level in Dzerzhinsk do not exceed their normal values.
An investigation is yet to determine the cause of the fire. One of the versions suggests that the fire started due to a violation of the safety protocols during the production process. At the same time, local authorities have reported that nothing indicates more explosions could follow.
No Fatalities, Two Missing
So far local authorities have said that 79 people were injured with at least 16 of them suffering shrapnel wounds from three blasts at the "Kristall" TNT plant. At least 27 factory employees and residents from nearby apartments sought medical assistance, but 11 of them were released after medical evaluation. Some 15 people were taken to the hospital with severe and moderate injuries. No fatalities have been reported, but two persons remain missing.
Investigation into the Incident
Dzerzhinsk’s authorities have initiated an investigation into the incident to determine those responsible, viewing the violation of the safety procedures as a primary version.
Although there is no immediate threat to the residents of Dzerzhinsk, local authorities have imposed a state of emergency in the city and several towns nearby. Local emergency services are arriving at the scene to start eliminating the aftermath of the explosions and start the rebuilding process. At least 300 people and 50 vehicles are currently engaged in these activities.
The "Kristall" research institute was founded in 1953 was working on the development of new methods to produce explosive materials, both for civilian and military purposes. Kristall also developed a series of new explosive materials, some of them quite unique. The plant is one of the industry’s leaders in Russia.