Moscow | Several explosions near a Russian military airfield in western Crimea on Tuesday killed one person, which Russian officials said were at an ammunition depot.
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Videos posted on social media showed a fireball forming after the loud explosion, as thick black smoke billowed into the sky and holidaymakers panicked and left a nearby local beach.
“Several munitions intended for aviation exploded at a depot located on the territory of the Sagi military airfield near the city of Novofeodorovka,” the Russian military said in a statement.
He added that the suspected deposit was not the target of any firing or bombing, though he did not specify the origin of the explosions.
The Russian military initially confirmed that there were no casualties in the blast. But of late, the leader of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, announced a death.
“Unfortunately one person was killed. I express my deepest condolences to his loved ones,” Aksyonov wrote in a telegram.
For his part, Crimea’s Health Minister Konstantin Skorupsky said five people were injured, including a child.
According to local authorities, 30 people were evacuated from Novofiodorovka.
A short time ago, they announced “several explosions” near the military airfield, without explaining the cause.
Crimea, Ukraine’s peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014, has been on the front lines of Russia’s military offensive against its Ukrainian neighbors since February 24.
Russian aircraft take off from Crimea almost daily to attack targets in Kiev-controlled areas, and many parts of the peninsula are within range of Ukrainian guns and drones.
Despite the conflict, Crimea remains an important holiday destination for many Russians who continue to enjoy summer on its beaches.
“Tourists are not at risk. We ask for calm,” said Alexei Terniak, the elected Russian deputy in Crimea.
“All necessary measures have been taken to ensure the safety of the infrastructure and the population,” Sergu Aksyonov said for his part.