Explosions at Munitions Factory Force Evacuations

The blasts set off a huge fire in the night sky.

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BELGRADE (AP) — A series of explosions rocked a munitions factory in central Serbia early Friday, forcing the evacuation of workers and nearby residents and causing panic but no injuries.

The blasts at an ammunition depot of the Sloboda factory in Cacak, about 140 kilometers south of Belgrade, set off a huge fire that lit the night sky above the town.

Police sealed off the area, blocked roads into the Cacak and moved people living near the factory from their homes. Workers who were at the factory hid in the basement when the explosions started.

It was not immediately clear what caused the incident. Serbian media reported that sporadic detonations could still be heard in the morning, hours after they started around 1.30 a.m.

“We were lucky the explosion didn't take place in the production halls,” Cacak Mayor Milun Todorovic told state broadcaster RTS television.

Officials said firefighters would be able to go into the factory to assess the situation 24 hours after the last explosion. They said later Friday they expected the fire to be fully extinguished by next week and the factory to back in operation on Monday.

RTS reported that most evacuated residents had returned to their homes by midday.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told reporters that early damage estimates reached up to 2 million euros ($2.4 million).

Sloboda is the biggest munitions factory in Serbia. It was targeted in a 1999 NATO bombing campaign during the war in Kosovo.

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