Thousands of people are being evacuated from Balakleya in the Kharkov region of Ukraine, as a massive fire has broken out at a munitions depot, which is said to be the largest in the country. There are reports of explosions and shattered windows.
Chaotic scenes with hundreds of vehicles stuck in traffic jams were reported on social media after the Balakleya city administration ordered an emergency evacuation of most of the city.
Videos uploaded by local residents show a huge blaze with what appears to be a missile flying off in a random direction and falling to the ground, as detonations are heard in the background.
Evgeny, who lives near the munitions depot, was one of the first to witness the inferno. He told RT that the incident has been downplayed by the Ukrainian media.
“Ukrainian media report that nothing serious has happened, saying that just one explosion took place and no one was injured. But my friends and I, who saw [the incident] with our own eyes, say that… some people have been injured.”
Explosions are still occurring at the munitions depot, Evgeny said, adding that the entire city of Balakleya has been evacuated.
The civil defense department of the city’s district administration earlier told RIA Novosti that most of the population of Balakleya had been evacuated.
“The first wave of the evacuation has come to an end. Most of the population have been evacuated by buses. Now the buses are returning to evacuate the rest. Specialists are going from house to house checking who remains,” the district administration said.
There have been no immediate reports of any civilian casualty.