Massive explosion hits mechanical plant near Moscow

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A massive explosion rocked a factory in the Moscow region on Wednesday, injuring dozens and blowing out windows in nearby buildings, local officials said.

At least 45 people were hurt with six in intensive care as a result of the blast at the Zagorsk optical-mechanical plant in the city of Sergiev Posad, northeast of the Russian capital, the district administration said in a post on Telegram.

Videos of the blast geolocated by NBC News show a huge mushroom of smoke rising over the plant. One taken by nearby residents and posted to social media shows the moment a huge, fiery blast takes place behind a car park.

Smoke fills the air after an explosion at a facility in Sergiyev Posad outside Moscow on Wednesday.
Smoke fills the air after an explosion at a facility in Sergiyev Posad outside Moscow on Wednesday. Twitter

The incident happened around 10:40 a.m. local time (3:40 a.m. ET) in a pyrotechnics warehouse rented on the territory of the plant by a “private company,” Moscow Region Governor Andrei Vorobyov said on Telegram.

Russia’s federal investigative agency said it launched a criminal probe into the incident, citing a “violation of industrial safety requirements for hazardous production facilities,” but said it was trying to establish the cause of the blast.

Emergency services were now going through the debris at the plant, which has been evacuated along with a nearby kindergarten, the governor said.

Russian state news agency Tass quoted the health ministry as saying three people had been rescued from under the rubble in serious condition.

People living in nearby houses had their windows shattered by the explosion, Vorobyov added, and a nearby sport complex was also partially damaged.

Blast rocks facility outside Moscow
Wounded people are treated by the roadside after the explosion outside Moscow on Wednesday. Moscow Region Governor Andrei Vorobyev / Telegram

Vorobyov did not say what caused the blast, but Russian state media reported, citing emergency officials, that a “human factor” was behind the explosion. Local deputy Sergey Pakhomov also said “a violation of technological processes” was to blame, without elaborating.

Russian state media reported that the plant makes optical devices for law enforcement agencies and civilian use.

The explosion comes amid an unprecedented number of drone attacks on the Russian capital and the surrounding region that the Kremlin has blamed on Ukraine.

Early Wednesday, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin reported that two drones were shot down by air defense systems over the capital. He said there was no information on any casualties.

Vorobyov told reports at the site of the blast that investigators have so far not confirmed if a drone could have been involved in the incident.

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