Russian troops blew up an industrial-sized acid tank in eastern Ukraine Tuesday — unleashing a dangerous cloud of toxic fumes that could blind locals, Ukrainian officials said.
The explosion in Rubizhne in the Luhansk region sparked panic as Ukrainian officials urged locals to remain in bombs shelters, or seal their windows and doors if inside their homes.
Luhansk region governor, Serhiy Haidai, warned that the toxic fumes could cause “severe damage.”
“Nitrogen acid is dangerous when inhaling, swallowing and when hit on the skin,” Haidai said in a Facebook alert for residents.
“When applied locally to the eyes, nitric acid causes severe damage with extensive necrosis of the cornea and conjunctiva, leading to loss of vision.”
He added: “Do not leave bomb shelters. If you are indoors, close windows and doors.”
Photos posted on social media that claimed to show the tank explosion captured plumes of thick orange smoke billowing into the air.
Luhansk is part of the Donbas region where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting the Ukrainian army since 2014.
The Russians denied responsibility for the explosion, saying in a Telegram post that “Ukrainian nationalist formations” were to blame.
The Russian-backed separatists said Ukrainian forces retreated from the town in the wake of the explosion.
Western governments have previously said they fear Russia could launch a chemical attack as part of its ongoing war in Ukraine and blame it on the other side.
With Post wires