Five people are known dead and at least 10,000 have been evacuated in a fire that continues to rage, with explosions reported every three to five seconds, in a Ukrainian military munitions storage area in the village of Novobogdanovka in the Melitopolsky district of Zaporozhsk Region.
A second fire was reported this morning in the Greater Anatol-Melitopol gas pipeline at the Fedorovka railroad station about two kilometers from the burning munitions dump. Flames from the gas line were said to be rising to heights of 40-50 meters and to preclude immediate control efforts.
Ukraine's Emergencies Ministry said the munitions at the dump include Grad missiles. No vehicles have been able to get within 20 kilometers of the site. Armored vehicles were said to be in preparation for an attempt to bring fire-fighting equipment closer to the scene. The fire broke out yesterday and is expected to continue for at least three days and perhaps a week.
The Zaporozhsk nuclear power station is 40 kilometers from the epicenter of the disaster. The fire area is estimated to cover 36 hectares.
Some fires, caused by exploding munitions, were reported in homes adjacent to the area of the storehouses. These fires were said to be under control.
The situation was reported to be under the personal control of Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma.