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Explosion at petrol station kills over 30 in Daghestan

15 August 2023
Screengrab from Russia's Ministry of Emergency Situations.

An explosion at a petrol station near the Daghestani capital, Makhachkala, has killed at least 35 people, with over 100 more injured. This is the latest and largest of a series of explosions in the Russian republic this month. 

The explosion took place at around 21:50 on Monday, beginning at a mechanic’s and spreading to a petrol station in the village of Novokuli, on the northern outskirts of Makhachkala. The fire was extinguished 4 hours after the explosion, RFE/RL reports.

Tuesday was declared a day of mourning by Sergei Melikov, the head of Daghestan. Work to evacuate the site remains ongoing, and a criminal investigation has been launched into the incident. 

A fire reportedly broke out during technical work on a vehicle at the mechanic’s, spreading to the petrol station, where two tanks of gas-air mixture caught fire and exploded. According to Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations, the blast hit people who had approached the building to look at the fire in the mechanic’s. 

The ministry was continuing to evacuate people from the site by helicopter on Tuesday, with an Il-76 aircraft transporting the seriously injured to Moscow, according to RFE/RL. Others were being admitted to local hospitals, as seen in a video on the Atypical Makhachkala Telegram channel. 

According to the latest data from the Russian Emergencies Ministry, three children were amongst the dead.

A criminal case has been initiated on charges for safety violations leading to the death of more than two people, RFE/RL reported. 

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Earlier explosions

Two other significant explosions have taken place in Daghestan this month. 

On 12 August, household gas exploded in a private house in Derbent, killing a 14-year-old and injuring four others, including two children.

While the two children have been discharged from hospital, their parents reportedly remain in serious conditon

Daghestan’s Investigative Committee opened a criminal investigation for the ‘improper provision of services’.

An explosion of household gas also took place on 9 August in a block of flats in Makhachkala. According to Russian news agency Interfax, the blast was caused by a gas leak, and led to the destruction of several apartments, the appearance of cracks in the building, and windows being broken. 

Head of Daghestan Sergei Melikov stated that residents had been resettled and were being provided with assistance, Interfax reported. 150 people were evacuated from the building, including 35 children.