Chemical Plant Near Donetsk, Eastern Ukraine, Hit by Explosion

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DONETSK, Ukraine — A powerful explosion rocked a chemical plant and set it on fire Monday outside the separatist stronghold of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. Rebels said the plant was hit by government shelling.

No casualties or damage were immediately reported from the blast, which could be heard in downtown Donetsk. The city lies in the middle of Ukraine's industrial heartland and explosions like this have long been feared.

An armed conflict between Russia-backed separatists and Ukraine government forces has killed more than 5,300 people and displaced more than a million people in eastern Ukraine.

The rebel mouthpiece Donetsk News Agency said Monday the chemical plant to the west of the city was hit by a Ukrainian artillery shell but the fire was put out and it posed no danger. NBC News could not immediately verify that account.

Image: Damaged apartment near shelled chemical plant
A woman cleans out her damaged apartment in the area near the chemical plant which was shelled on Monday.Pierre Crom / Getty Images

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