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Ukraine Admits Rocket Hit Apartment

April 24, 2000 GMT

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) _ An explosion that wrecked an apartment building and killed three people was caused by a rocket veering off course during a military training exercise, the Defense Ministry admitted Monday.

Metal shards found at the blast site proved that a rocket launched from 80 miles away slammed into the nine-story building last Thursday, the Interfax news agency quoted Volodymyr Tereshchenko, commander of Ukraine’s artillery forces, as saying.

The explosion, which destroyed seven stories of the building in the central Ukrainian town of Brovary, killed three people and forced the evacuation of 91 others.

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The Soviet-designed surface-to-surface 9M-79 missile was launched in a training exercise shortly before the blast. Initially, the Defense Ministry denied the missile hit the apartment building, claiming that a crater found near the rocket’s intended target proved it stayed on course.

According to Interfax, Tereshchenko said a malfunction in the rocket’s rudders may have caused it to veer off target and hit the building.