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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Let’s start with the Emergencies Ministry. Mr Puchkov, what can you report on the situation in Primorye?
State Secreatry and Deputy Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov: Mr President, on May 18 a fire erupted at an ammunitions depot at the Defence Ministry military unit № 86792, which was followed by explosions of shells to a distance of up to 2.5 to3 kilometres.
A federal headquarters has been set up to conduct rescue and recovery operations; and a local operational headquarters of the Emergencies Ministry; federal executive agencies and the Primorye regional branch of the Unified State System for Emergency Prevention and Response are taking part in the effort.
The local residents were informed within a short time and 1871 people were evacuated from four towns. These people are temporarily being housed by their family members and at specially set housing facilities. Required assistance has been provided to the local residents, including psychological counselling, and the supply of hot meals and basic necessities to the areas has been organised.
Emergencies Ministry’s Aviation Group was deployed for emergency relief within a short time, consisting of the Be-200 airplane, two Mi-8 helicopters and two Il-76 aircraft equipped with robotics and carrying a team of experts.
The far eastern section of the Trans-Siberian Railway has been closed and a total of 12 passenger trains have been delayed. The Russian Railways and the Primorye Territory Administration are keeping the passengers informed on the delayed trains and have organised hot meals and necessary assistance to the passengers.
At present, the situation has stabilised; executive agencies and the Emergencies Ministry’s resources and personnel in cooperation with the Defence Ministry are successfully coping with the tasks ahead of them. At present the local residents have returned to their homes.
“Naturally, the people want to return to their homes as quickly as possible, but we must take great care to ensure their complete safety”.
The emergency response group consisted of 748 men using 163 pieces of equipment.
That is the end of my report. Thank you for your attention.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.
Now I would like to hear the Primorye Governor’s report. Mr Miklushevsky, I know that you have visited the site. What is the situation there now?
Primorye Territory Governor Vladimir Miklushevsky: Mr President, I have visited the site. I interrupted my trip to Moscow and immediately flew out to Vladivostok and then directly to the emergency site. Deputy Defence Minister and I drove out to the depot in an armoured vehile.
I flew over the site in a helicopter twice and can report that the situation is currently under control. The fire has been put out almost completely and the firefighters are continuing to douse water over the depot to prevent any repeat explosions.
I also met with the residents who had been evacuated at a school in the village of Aleksandrovka. The people are grateful for the prompt evacuation. They are returning to their homes now. I have just spoken with the head of the municipal district and he told me that there are virtually no problems in three of the towns and one of them, Sungach, which is located closest to the scene, had more damage than the others: some of the houses have broken windows and doors. The reconstruction work will continue all day today and tomorrow. Meanwhile, the residents can either stay at the evacuation centres or return home if they wish.
Vladimir Putin: I would like to address the Emergencies Ministry officials and Mr Miklushevsky. I know that the Deputy Defence Minister is already on the site and taking part in the efforts. I have just talked with Defence Minister [Anatoly Serdyukov]. Now I want to address the two of you to make sure that you do everything possible to avoid any accidents or casualties.
Naturally, the people want to return to their homes as quickly as possible, but we must take great care to ensure their complete safety. The Interior Ministry personnel should also work on the site to prevent any violations of the law.
Mr Miklushevsky, if the need arises for help from the federal government to restore the damaged houses or to provide assistance to the people, please submit the calculations. Should you decide that the regional resources, including financial, are sufficient, please do it promptly through your own means and report to me within a week.
Vladimir Miklushevsky: Yes, Mr President.
Tomorrow I will sign an order and we will handle this. We are currently calculating the costs involved, and on Monday we will render the necessary assistance to the municipal area. But I emphasise once again: we started providing assistance to the residents immediately today.
Vladimir Putin: Good. Please report to me next week on what has been done.