Sixteen people died in an explosion and fire at a gunpowder and chemicals plant in Russia’s western Ryazan province on Friday, Russian state TV said, and one man was taken to hospital with serious burns.
The disaster wiped out practically the entire shift of 17 workers who were on site at the time, according to a list of names posted on social media.
A video showed the moment of the explosion, with a huge yellow fireball rising into the air, and photos of the aftermath showed a scene of total destruction, with smoke still rising from the rubble.
Footage of the moment of explosion pic.twitter.com/55damNOdov
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The exact cause was unclear, with TASS news agency quoting a source as saying it had been caused by a failure to observe proper technical procedures.
The ministry said 170 emergency workers and 50 vehicles were involved in dealing with the fire.