July 3, 2008

Warehoused Munitions Explode Near Sofia

Powerful explosions from a military storage area were expected to rock the Sofia, Bulgaria, and surrounding areas throughout the day Thursday, police said.

Four warehouses full of old munitions exploded, but police said the explosives didn't contain chemical substances, the Sofia Echo reported.

Officials said they did not know what triggered the explosions at Bulgarian army's unit 18 250 near the village of Chelopechene, east of Sofia. An investigation would begin as soon as the site was accessible.

There is no danger for the population from leakage of noxious gases, a Defense Ministry statement said. Measurements of the air are taken constantly.

However, the ministry had a unit trained in chemical protection on standby, the Echo said.

People living near the warehouses were evacuated as a precaution against flying debris, the Sofia News Agency reported. Windows in buildings in Chelopechene have been shattered and the explosions could be heard in nearby Sofia.