Five injured as explosions rock Russian air base in annexed Crimea

TEMPO.CO, Moscow — Explosions rocked a Russian airbase near the annex resorts Crimean peninsula on Thursday, injuring five people according to local authorities in what Moscow attributed to detonations in ordnance stories.

Local witnesses told Reuters they heard at least 12 explosions around 3:20 p.m. local time (1220 GMT) from Saky air base near Novofedorivka on Crimea’s west coast. They described a final explosion about 30 minutes later as the loudest.

Crimea has so far been spared the intense shelling and artillery battles that have taken place in other parts of eastern and southern Ukraine since February 24, when President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian armed forces to enter Ukraine, some of which are based in the peninsula.

The Russian Defense Ministry said “the detonation of several aviation ammunition stores” caused an explosion, Russian news agencies reported, but there were no injuries.

However, the head of Crimea’s health department said five people were injured, including a child, according to the official TASS news agency.

No comment was immediately available from Ukraine.

Russian Crimean Governor Sergei Aksyonov posted a video on his Telegram channel from near the base.

“The paramedics are working on the spot (…) it is too early to talk about the victims,” ​​he said. “Among the civilian population, no one was admitted to hospital for medical treatment.”

He said a five-kilometre (three-mile) exclusion zone had been established around the site and local authorities were monitoring the fires.

The Ministry of Defense said there were no attacks and no aerial equipment was damaged. Moscow said further steps were being taken to establish the causes.

The base is close to the resorts of Novofedorivka and Saky, but Russian tourist association ATOS said they did not appear to have been affected by the blasts. Nevertheless, locals reported traffic jams on roads away from the coast.

Many videos taken from the beaches have been posted on social media, showing huge plumes of smoke rising into the sky in the distance. The videos could not be immediately verified.

Novofedorivka and Saky lie about 50 km (30 miles) north of the port of Sevastopol, headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, which Moscow leased from Kyiv for decades before seizing and annexing all of Russia. peninsula to Ukraine in 2014, in a move unrecognized by most other countries.

Reuters

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