Fire Erupts at Bulgarian-Serbian Military Drills Witnessed by Borisov, Tadic
Anti-aircraft missiles fired during the joint Bulgarian-Serbian military drills near Shabla on the Black Sea coast have caused a fire before the eyes of Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and Serbian President Boris Tadic.
The state leaders of Bulgaria and Serbia Borisov and Tadic were attending together Friday the joint anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) drills of the Bulgarian and Serbian armed forces in Shabla.
They came for the final day of the Bulgarian-Serbian AAA drills on the firing ground near the Black Sea town of Shabla, which are taking place August 24-26, 2011, together with Bulgarian Defense Minister Anyu Angelov and his Serbian counterpart Dragan Sutanovac.
Shortly after the firing of the first two anti-aircraft rockets Friday afternoon, however, the grass around the firing ground off the Black Sea coast caught fire, engulfing the entire firing ground in thick smoke.
The fire broke out just 100 meters from the formal delegations led by Borisov and Tadic, with the entire mass of smoke moving in their direction because of the wind, the BGNES news agency reported.
Two units of the local fire brigade in Shabla were struggling to put out the fire as of 3 pm on Friday.
The firing of a third missile, of the EC-300 type, also caused a fire igniting the grass in the same area, which necessitated the arrival of two more fire-brigade units, as of 3:30 pm.
A large number of military officers and mechanics flocked to inspect the missile launcher in question for damages.
Friday's fire is not the first incident at the Bulgarian military's AAA drills near Shabla.
Back in 2009, when the drills were carried out only by the Bulgarian armed forces, one of the rockets exploded 50 meters up in the air a second after the launch in front of the eyes of then Defense Minister, Nikolay Mladenov, and President Georgi Parvanov, who is the Bulgarian Commander-in-Chief.
No one was killed or injured by the explosion but the drills had to be terminated for some time. The explosion originated in the engine of the anti-aircraft missile, whereas its head fell in the sea.
The 2011 Bulgarian-Serbian anti-aircraft military training near Shabla is taking place for a second year in a row – after it first started in 2010.
The drills feature units from the Bulgarian Air Force, the Bulgarian Navy, the Bulgarian Army and the Bulgarian Border Police as well as an AAA brigade from the Serbian Air Force.
The weapons used and tested in the AAA drills included MiG-29 and Su-25 fighter jets and anti-aircraft surface-to-air missile complexes SA-2 Volhov, SA-3 Neva, SA-6 Kub, SA-8 Osa, SA-7 Strela 2M.
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