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One dead after explosion at Ukraine ammunition depot forces evacuation of 20,000 people

Click to play video: 'Ukraine military clears ammo warehouse in east after deadly blast' Ukraine military clears ammo warehouse in east after deadly blast
WATCH ABOVE: Massive balls of fire and plumes of smoke rise above Ukraine after ammunition depot fire – Mar 24, 2017

Ukrainian officials say one person is dead and around 20,000 people have been evacuated in the Kharkiv region near the border with Russia after a massive fire at a military ammunition depot.

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Ukraine’s chief military prosecutor, Anatolii Matios, said on Facebook that the blaze, which erupted early Thursday at the depot in Balaklia, was sparked by an act of sabotage.

The body of the 66-year old woman was found in a house that had been hit by a shell in a town near the depot in Balaklia, Ukraine’s State Emergency Service minister Mykola Chechetkin told lawmakers Friday.

Local reports also said a 54-year-old woman was injured after being struck in the head with shrapnel

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman has flown to the area to monitor the blaze, which is still continuing, but its intensity had lessened.

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Ukrainian officials have accused Russian or separatist saboteurs of causing the fire with the aid of a drone. Separatists deny the claim and say it likely was caused by what they call Ukrainian military incompetence.

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The arsenal holds large-calibre artillery rounds and is one of Ukraine’s largest.

Kharkiv lies just north of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where Ukrainian troops have been fighting Russia-backed separatists. The conflict has killed more than 9,800 since April 2014.

-With files from Global News.

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