One dead, two dozen hurt in Russia army blast: reports

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One conscript was killed and around two dozen hurt on Wednesday in an accidental explosion at a Russian artillery firing range southeast of Moscow, Russian news agencies reported.

The incident occurred at testing grounds in the Ryazan region when two trucks carrying gunpowder exploded as the conscripts were disposing of outdated weaponry, Interfax said, quoting a Moscow military district spokesman.

Interfax said 23 conscripts were wounded. RIA Novosti, quoting a defence ministry spokesman, put the number of injured at 24. The defence ministry, contacted by AFP, declined to comment on the episode.

Deadly incidents of unintentional explosion of shells mishandled by inadequately-trained soldiers have been reported on several occasions in recent years.

Last November, 10 people -- eight soldiers and two firefighters -- were killed in a series of accidental explosions on two different days at a single munitions depot in the central Russian city of Ulyanovsk.

Two months earlier, a fire set off a munitions blast at a base in the Urals city of Chelyabinsk, killing an officer wounding two conscripts.

Poor safety training was cited as a factor in the Ulyanovsk explosions.

© 2010 AFP

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