Kharkiv journalist Yurii Borshch, whose relatives reside in Balakliia, told Censor.NET.
"The blasts of the ammunition at the military unit A1352 started in Balakliia at around 2:30 a.m. The explosions were very powerful. People started panicking. Due to the Donbas events, city shelters and basements have been put in proper order, with sufficient markings of the locations in place. So the people were quite organized to move to the basements.
"They remain in shelters, sometimes getting up to the surface. Stationary phone lines do not operate in the city. Some houses' windows were damaged by the shock wave, some balconies cracked. Some say the missiles are reaching neighboring Borshchivka village.
"The evacuation of civilians is underway in the city. It started really fast, during the first hour after the blasts. People are being taken to Krasnyi Lyman, Lozova, Shevelivka, Volokhiv Yar. An evacuation point has been set in the city downtown. The explosions continue," the reporter said. He added that local radio station has announced a call to get into shelters and provided the addresses of the shelters.
Borshch said the issue with the military base in the city has persisted over the years. Local residents and authorities have many times asked to solve the problem of storing ammunition this close to the city. Recently, the depot was allegedly full.
It's one of the biggest depots in Ukraine and Eastern Europe, the reporter said. At the same time, it lacks modern surveillance cameras and IR sensors. It's an old Soviet-time military base.
"If someone wanted to commit an act of sabotage, it's quite simple to do that. The military say it was an arson at several spots," Borshch said.
He said there was no information on casualties, as well as no information on the garrison town within the military unit. Railway connection has been halted due to proximity to the explosion site.
As reported, March 23, 2017, an emergency arose at the military ammunition depot of the Defense Ministry at Balakliia, the Kharkiv region, due to explosions of ammunition. Several storage areas of rocket and missile artillery ordnance (tank and artillery missiles of 125 mm and 152 mm caliber) were impacted by explosion and caught fire, which caused the detonation of the ammunition. Residents of the nearby areas have been evacuated.
Chief Military Prosecutor Anatolii Matios said the emergency in Balakliia was an act of sabotage.
Later, a video of the explosion at Balakliia ammunition depot was published online.
Related materials: Explosions at Balakliia ammunition depot