Ukraine crisis: Donetsk 'tactical missile' explosion at factory sends blast wave across rebel-held city

The huge explosion smashed glass across the city

Adam Withnall
Tuesday 21 October 2014 06:48 BST

A huge explosion has rocked the rebel-held city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, smashing windows over a radius of several kilometres and sending a vast mushroom cloud up into the sky.

The blast occurred at a rubber processing factory full of chemicals, with numerous videos taken in the aftermath of the initial explosion showing further, smaller bursts of flame.

The plant lies in a rebel-controlled area on the outskirts of the city, the largest controlled by the pro-Russian separatists. They and government forces are supposed to be in a state of ceasefire after agreeing a truce last month, but diminished artillery exchanges have continued.

Today's blast, which rang out at 12.15pm local time, was described by witnesses as by far the largest to have occurred in Donetsk for some time.

Some rebels said it was caused by a tactical SS-21 Scarab missile, according to Russian media outlets, though this could not be independently verified.

A spokesperson for the Ukrainian military denied reports that the explosion was caused by one of its missiles, saying Kiev's forces had nothing to do with the incident.

Pictures showed damage to the exterior of the Donbass Arena, home to the football club Shakhtar Donetsk, while video released by rebels showed a meeting of the Donetsk People's Republic interrupted by the loud blast, shaking the building and causing attendants to panic.

Since the current ceasefire was announced, the UN estimates more than 300 people have been killed. That compares to more than 3,660 deaths over the course of the six-month conflict.

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