MOSCOW— A Russian military plane crashed on Monday (Oct 17) into a residential area of Yeysk, a town in southwestern Russia near the border with Ukraine, news agencies reported, citing the defence ministry.
At least four people were killed in the incident and 25 have been taken to hospital, local authorities said on Telegram.
The resulting fire that engulfed a nine-storey residential building has been contained and is almost extinguished, regional governor Veniamin Kondratyev said on Telegram.
Oksana, a local resident who declined to give her last name, said the area had been cordoned off.
“There could be an explosion. Everything is burning inside. There is smoke,” she told AFP.
She said she was stuck in traffic when she heard the news.
“I’m in shock obviously. My child was alone at home. We already used to go to sleep with fear everyday – Mariupol is just across from us,” she said, referring to the nearby Ukrainian port besieged earlier this year by Russian forces.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was informed of the fire and ordered “all necessary assistance be given to casualties from the military plane incident,” the Kremlin told the state-run news agency TASS.
RESIDENCE BLOCK ENGULFED BY FLAMES
“On Oct 17, 2022, while taking off to carry out a training flight from the military airfield of the Southern Military District, an Su-34 aircraft crashed,” the Russian defence ministry said.
Its statement said the military jet had malfunctioned after “one of its the engines caught fire during take-off”.
“At the site of the Sukhoi Su-34 crash, in the courtyard of a residential area, the aircraft’s fuel caught fire,” the ministry said.
Images on social media showed a Soviet-era residence block engulfed by flames.
The blaze reached five out of nine floors of a residential building, according to emergency services, quoted by Russian state-run agencies.
The blaze spread over 2,000sqm, the services added.
Around 600 people usually live in the building, the local Krasnodar administration said on Telegram.
“The governor ordered the whereabouts of each resident to be established,” the administration said.
The regional governor, Veniamin Kondratyev, was on the scene on Monday night.
He said to reporters that his administration was “providing maximum assistance” to residents and promised to “figure out whether the house would be restored, or we will build new apartments”.
Kondratyev earlier said on Telegram that “all fire and rescue units in the region are working on extinguishing the fire”.
“The fire spread to a few floors. According to preliminary information, 17 flats have been affected,” Kondratyev said.
The investigative committee, which looks into serious crimes, said it had opened a criminal investigation into the crash.
Since the beginning of the Ukraine offensive airspace around the south of Russia has been closed.
Yeysk town is on the Taganrog Gulf on the Sea of Azov, opposite Mariupol, which is under Russian control. The town is home to about 85,000 people.
Mariupol withstood weeks of relentless Russian bombardment, with resistance concentrated in a dense network of underground tunnels at its Azovstal steel plant.
Accidents involving Russian civilian aircraft and warplanes are fairly common, usually caused by technical malfunction or human error.
In June a military plane crashed in the city of Ryazan, southeast of Moscow, killing four people and injuring five others.
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