Old munitions blasts rock central Russia

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Old munitions exploded on Tuesday at a military disposal site in central Russia, sending a white plume of smoke into the sky and forcing authorities to partially evacuate residents of nearby villages. The Donguz military range 30 kilometres (18 miles) south of the city of Orenburg in the Ural mountains region caught fire after the old munitions unexpectedly exploded there at 0650 GMT on Tuesday, the emergencies and defence ministries said in separate statements. Authorities were considering evacuating residents of four villages close to the range, a spokesman for the regional emergencies ministry, Vladislav Zubchenko, told AFP. He did not say how many people were evacuated from the affected area which is home to several thousand people. Television footage showed a white plume of smoke rising above the affected area. Several buildings in one village sustained damage, with the explosions also shattering windows, the government of the Orenburg region said.