According to Russian news agency Interfax, citing a senior official, a Russian military jet crashed into a residential structure immediately after taking off near the Ukrainian border, igniting a large fire that has reportedly killed at least 14 people.
On Monday, video and photos posted to social media showed a residential structure engulfed in flames in Yeysk, a Russian port and resort town located just south of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol across the Sea of Azov.
According to the Russian defense ministry, the Su-34 fighter-bomber slammed into the structure shortly after takeoff from the adjacent Yuzhny airbase. An engine fire prevented the jet, which can be employed for bombing missions or to combat other aircraft, from achieving altitude and causing the disaster.
The jet was carrying a payload that detonated after impact, delaying firemen from accessing the fire for some time, according to the ministry. At least five levels of the residential units were engulfed in flames, according to video.
According to the ministry, both pilots were able to eject from the plane before it collided with the structure. An image shows at least one of the pilots jumping out of the plane before contact, catapulting into the skies and releasing an orange parachute as a tremendous flame blazed behind him.
“It landed smack on top of us. “Everything is covered in black smoke,” a witness stated in a video posted by the station. “Do you understand, Mom?” We may have been ten meters away.”
After initially being reduced downward, the death toll was later increased upward to 13, including three children. According to the Russian Emergencies Ministry, several victims were discovered under rubble, according to Russian news agency Tass. According to the country’s health ministry, the crash injured an additional 19 persons.
The disaster occurred on the same day that Russia launched a persistent air campaign on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities in an attempt to knock out their energy networks, leaving millions of residents without heat or electricity.
In the first documented use of loitering munitions against the Ukrainian capital, Russia launched scores of Iranian-made suicide drones at Ukrainian cities.
According to the Bell, a Russian media organization, the plane near Yeysk is the tenth Russian military jet to crash since Russia launched its invasion in February. The bulk has been struck and transported by planes, with two Su-34s being lost in the last month.
The crash also underscores the impact of Russia’s eight-month-long conflict on its military machine. It happened just days after several soldiers opened fire at a training camp in the Belgorod region, killing over a dozen people and raising further concerns about the caliber of the recruits that Russia is pushing to the front to prevent a successful Ukrainian comeback.
Earlier on Monday, an eyewitness described the commotion that followed the crash to Russian state media TASS: “Plane crashed in our city… “Ambulances and firefighters are arriving from all around the city, and helicopters are flying,” stated one eyewitness.
Russia launched an offensive against Ukraine on February 24, 2022, escalating the Russo-Ukrainian War that began in 2014. The invasion is projected to have killed tens of thousands of people on both sides and resulted in Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II, with an estimated 8 million people internally displaced by late May and 7.6 million Ukrainians fleeing the nation by 3 October 2022.
Within five weeks of the invasion, Russia experienced the greatest emigration since the 1917 October Revolution. The invasion has also led to global food shortages.
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