Military storehouse explodes near Sofia

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Explosions in a military storehouse woke up the Bulgarian capital city of Sofia around 6:30 AM EST. Police, ambulances and Civil defense arrived at the scene.

According to general Zlatan Stoikov, speaking for the Bulgarian National Radio, the military base in Chelopechene is currently inaccessible and under closing down. "There are 1494 tons of explosives stored in the Chelopechane base", said the Minister of Defence Nikolai Tsonev, according to "Focus" Agency. The restricted area is 2 square kilometers. In the moment of the first explosion there were two guards in the storehouses, who didn't note anything moving. A radius of 6 kilometres is inspected for shrapnel.

Some was noticed near the Kvebek approach to the Sofia Airport, said the Minister of Transport Petar Mutafchiev. The part was 4-5 cm and it is removed. Some of the flights to Sofia were redirected to Plovdiv and passengers were transported to Sofia by buses. After being inspected by internal specialists and group from the Ministry of Transport, the Sofia airport is working again.

Many windows were broken by the explosion, even in some parts of Sofia. The mayor of Sofia, Boiko Borisov, said that many citizens called the municipality to find out what has happened. 1,438 calls to the emergency services number were received between 6:30 and 6:45, the Minister of Emergencies Emel Etem reported to the national legislature, according to "Focus" agency. The people that called it in didn't know the exact location of the explosion. The explosion was heard at 6:28; the first call was at 6:30. The police arrived in 5 minutes and all other services in 10.

A detachment from the 38th Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Protection Regiment - Musachevo was sent to the scene. There were rumours about toxic gases and even radiation, but they were denied by the chemical squad, arrived at the scene.

The cause of the explosions is currently unknown and is under investigation. The investigators will wait at least 24 hours before approaching the scene.