A powerful explosion ripped through a warehouse outside the Russian capital on Wednesday, officials said, injuring dozens and sending up a massive plume of smoke visible for miles.
Local officials said the epicenter of the blast was at a warehouse storing fireworks located on the grounds of the Zagorsk Optical-Mechanical Plant in the town of Sergiyev Posad, less than 50 miles from Moscow.
The explosion blew out windows in schools and a sports complex and in around 20 nearby apartment buildings, according to a social media post from the local government administration.
The explosion raised eyebrows among some in Ukraine: The plant is a leading developer and manufacturer of optical and optoelectronic devices for law enforcement agencies, industry and health care, according to the Russian state news agency Tass. It produces night vision devices and binoculars for the Russian military as part of the country’s defense conglomerate Rostec, according to the Moscow Times newspaper.
Andrey Vorobyev, the governor of the Moscow region, said that Piroross, a private company that produces pyrotechnics, had been renting the warehouse space from the plant. Public records show that the company declared bankruptcy last year. Mr. Vorobyev also claimed that the plant had not manufactured optical devices “for a long time.”
There was no immediate suggestion of foul play, and the local authorities said the blast was not related to reports of drones flying near Moscow overnight.
Russia’s Federal Investigative Committee said in a statement on the messaging app Telegram that it was looking into the possible “violation of industrial safety requirements.”
“We are looking into the causes of the blast,” Dmitry Akulov, the head of the district, wrote on Telegram. At least 45 people had been injured, some seriously, he added in a separate post. The authorities ordered a “total evacuation” of all plant buildings and workshops.
Five more people could be buried under the rubble, Mr. Vorobyev said.