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4,000 tonnes of old munitions explode in Russia

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MOSCOW (AFP): Four thousand tonnes of old munitions blew up at a military site in central Russia releasing a plume of white smoke into the sky and sending panicked locals fleeing for their lives.

The Donguz military range 30 kilometres south of the city of Orenburg in the Ural Mountains region caught fire Tuesday after the old munitions unexpectedly exploded, the emergency and defence ministries said.

A total of 4,000 tonnes of outdated munitions including 400 tonnes of aerial bombs and more than 1,300 tonnes of shells exploded, a spokeswoman for the chief military investigative directorate, Yevgeniya Maltseva, told AFP.

The defence ministry and the regional government said no military personnel or local residents had been injured.

Television footage showed a white mushroom cloud rising above the area.

"It was mostly residential areas close to the military range that sustained damage," the regional legislature said in a statement, adding that the force of the blasts also shattered windows of schools and kindergartens.

Witnesses from nearby villages described scenes of chaos.

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