Venezuela: 10,000 flee after explosions at arms depot

A FIRE set off a series of explosions at a Venezuelan military arms depot yesterday, killing one person and leading authorities to evacuate about 10,000 people from the area.

Residents were being evacuated from within a four-mile perimeter around the depot, Rafael Isea, governor of Aragua state where the city of Maracay is located, told state television.

"This is a preventive measure because the ammunitions that were detonating are ammunitions that have a powerful impact," Mr Isea said.

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The cause of the fire remained unclear. last night. State radio reported that firefighters were beginning to extinguish the blaze after a series of smaller explosions.

Soldiers and police blocked exits from a major highway that runs close to the arms depot. Clouds of thick, white smoke rose up from the area near the military facility, floating over green hills above Maracay, a city located 60 miles west of the capital, Caracas.