UNITED KINGDOM. London: On Tuesday, powerful explosions rocked a Russian airbase in Crimea, injuring adjacent structures as they pushed high clouds of smoke into the sky.
Locals and tourists alike compared what they witnessed to a nuclear mushroom cloud; some said their apartments had been completely destroyed.
“When I stepped outside to look out the window, it appeared as though a mushroom from a nuclear explosion had arisen. There were two such large explosions. As everything started to disintegrate,” Sergey Milochinsky, a local, stated.
On the peninsula’s west coast, close to Novofedorivka, is the Saky air base, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014 and used in February as one of the launchpads for its invasion of Ukraine.
Local witnesses reported hearing at least 12 explosions around 3:20 p.m. local time (1220 GMT).
Authorities said that at least one person was killed and several others were injured.
Since Russian soldiers entered the country, Crimea, a popular tourist destination for Russians, has so far avoided the heavy bombing and artillery combat that other regions of eastern and southern Ukraine have experienced.
Although initially claiming that no one had been hurt, the Russian defence ministry was adamant that an explosion had been caused by the “detonation of multiple aviation ammunition stockpiles.”
There had been no attack, it claimed, and no aircraft equipment had been harmed.
According to a ministry source who declined to be identified, “only a violation of fire safety rules is recognized as the main reason for the explosion of many ammunition depots at the Saky airfield.”
The source was cited as saying, “There are no signs, proof, or, even less, facts (that suggest) an intentional influence on ammo depots”. However, rumours that it had been struck by long-range missiles fired from Ukraine swept through Ukrainian social media.
According to Crimea’s health ministry, one person died. Five people received treatment for minor wounds, and another person was said to have been hospitalised with moderate injuries.