Page last updated at 12:43 GMT, Thursday, 3 July 2008 13:43 UK

Sofia shaken by depot explosions


Arial shots of the explosions at the munitions depot

A series of strong blasts have shaken the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, after munitions stored in an army depot on the edge of the city exploded.

The explosions forced the closure of the city's main airport and the evacuation of some 2,000 people.

Officials said there were no reports of injuries from the blasts which happened in the village of Chelopechene.

The depot stored 1,500 tonnes of obsolete munitions, out of an estimated total of 100,000 tonnes in Bulgaria.

The blasts damaged buildings and ripped glass from the windows of blocks of flats near the depot, sending residents fleeing onto the streets in panic.

Guards at the complex, attached to a military base which is being closed down, were evacuated.

"We were scared to death," 61-year-old Nadka Doncheva, who lives in the village, told Reuters news agency. "All the windows are broken."

A senior presidential aide said that there was no immediate danger to residents.

"Large quantities of conventional ammunition are stored in the facility, but there are no toxic chemicals or radioactive substances stored there," Nikolai Kolev said.

Country profile: Bulgaria
29 Jan 08 |  Country profiles

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