An explosion at a petroleum storage facility in the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital Kiev on Tuesday has reportedly claimed the lives of several emergency workers, although the exact numbers are yet to be released.
Firefighters combating the inferno which broke out on Monday were caught up in the explosion on Tuesday morning. Arsen Avakov, Ukraine’s Interior Minister, confirmed there were casualties on his Twitter account, but did not say how many.
A local TV channel, called 1+1, reported that there were 180 rescue workers in the area at the time of the blast. Ambulances are rushing to transport the injured workers to hospitals.
According to RT, many storage tanks as well as gas pipes are still ablaze and the accident that started on Monday still has not been contained. Due to the risk of more explosions, the area has been evacuated and cordoned off.
Sixty fire-fighting squads have been mobilised according to Reuters.
The facility is owned by a petroleum distribution company and houses many fuel storage tanks.
Huge clouds of smoke can be observed in the area. Eyewitnesses reported that black clouds covered the sky and even rain drops were blackened.
Zoryan Shkiryak, an official from the Interior Ministry, said that the cause of fire might be arson or a violation of safety regulations at the facility.
UNIAN news agency reported from a police source that the fire might have been caused by an attempt to steal fuel from one of the depots. An investigation into the incident has begun.