Three killed in blast at Russian explosives plant

Three killed in blast at Russian explosives plant

Moscow: At least three people died in a blast at a major explosives plant in central Russia, officials said Friday, with four workers hospitalised and five still missing as rescuers cleared the rubble.

The blast rocked the Sverdlov plant in the city of Dzerzhinsk about 400 kilometres (250 miles) east of Moscow.

The plant is a major explosives producer as well as a disposal facility for old ammunition and toxic rocket fuel under international programmes funded by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

"We found three dead in the rubble of the fire," regional emergency ministry chief Valery Sinkov said after firefighters doused the flames in the plant.

Investigators were working to identify the remains, he said.

Four other people were hospitalised, two of them in a serious condition, Sinkov said, adding that it was not yet clear if any more people were still buried under the blast debris.

The plant's chief engineer Mikhail Lebedev said the explosion occurred during procedures to dispose of old mines sent to the facility by the Russian defence ministry.

He said five workers were still unaccounted for after the blast, Russian news agencies reported.

Dzerzhinsk is considered one of the world's most polluted cities due to its many chemical plants.