Ukraine

Ukraine Update No. 1: Explosions at depot in Balakliia, Kharkivska oblast | 24 March 2017 [EN/UK]

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Highlights

  • On 23 March, explosions at a military warehouse in Balakliia caused at least two civilian casualties (one fatality) and damage to civilian infrastructure and residential buildings within 10 km of the site. Detonations are expected to continue for up to a week.

  • The State Emergency Services and volunteers supported evacuation of more than 20,000 people who left the area to other villages in Kharkivska oblast. Some people already started to return.

  • A 40-km radius “No fly zone” has been established over the affected area. Railroad and motorway communications have been diverted.

  • Depending on the time it will take for people to return, the scale and the potential environmental impact of the incident, rapid mobilization of additional resources, technical expertise and support may be required.

Situation overview

On 23 March, at 3 a.m., a series of detonations occurred at the Ukrainian Army ammunition warehouse1 located in Balakliia (70 km SE of Kharkiv, Government Controlled Area – GCA, approximately 30,000 inhabitants). The incident resulted in at least two civilian casualties (one dead). Investigation is ongoing to determine the cause of the incident.

Over 20,000 people from the northern part of Balakliia, and from the villages of Borshchivka, Verbivka and Yakovenkove immediately fled the area. While it is difficult to ascertain the exact number of evacuees, the State Emergency Service (SES) stated that, by the end of 23 March, they relocated some 2,500 people, including 1,500 disabled persons, to six evacuation centres in Kharkivska oblast, and others left the area by their own means or with support of volunteer organizations. By 24 March, some people started to return home, while others were relocated to nine villages surrounding Balakliia (Asiivka, Bryhadyrivka, Donets, Husarivka, Milova, Piatyhirske, Pryshyb, Savyntsi and Shevelivka).

According to SES, there are no plans to set up camps, and evacuees are being accommodated in available temporary shelters. Local village authorities are responsible for accommodation of evacuees and indicated immediate need for meal ready to eat, bottled water and hygiene items. The authorities, volunteer groups, national and international partners, including the Ukrainian Red Cross, and the NNGO Stantsia Kharkiv among others, are providing assistance to cover the basic needs of the affected population. Accommodation for some 1,000 people is available in Kharkiv town, but, thus far, none of the evacuees intend to move there. The Balakliia Raion Administration has set up a hot line for the affected people (+38 057 495 1076).

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.