A Russian ammunition depot in Crimea caught fire after it was rocked by a series of explosions, injuring two people and forcing an evacuation.
According to Russia’s state news agency RIA, a massive fire broke out on Tuesday morning in Mayskoye, a village in the northern part of the peninsula that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014. So far, there have been no reports of injuries. “serious” deaths, according to Russian state news agency RIA.
The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that the affected site was used “for temporary storage of ammunition of one of the military units”.
It said: “As a result of the fire, stored ammunition exploded,” without specifying what caused the fire.
Sergei Aksyonov, Crimea’s governor appointed by Russia, said 2,000 local residents had been evacuated. Ammunition continued to explode at the site, he added.
Moscow also said another fire had started at a substation near the town of Dzhankoi, 14 miles from Mayskoye. The Kremlin has not commented on the cause of either fire and Ukraine has yet to officially confirm or deny responsibility.
After Tuesday’s explosion, Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, tweeted that Crimea under Ukraine’s control used to be a country of “Black Sea, mountains, recreation and tourism”, but under the control of Ukraine. Russia’s occupation, it was one of the “explosive warehouses and high risk of death for intruders and thieves”.
His comments come a week after massive explosions hit a Russian military base in the Crimean city of Novofedorivka, far from the front lines. Several of the Kremlin’s jets appear to have been destroyed by the explosions, which Moscow blames on random explosions of bombs and bullets.
Analysts have called the story questionable, instead assuming the damage was caused by anti-ship missiles fired by Ukraine.
Ukraine hopes to regain control of Crimea soon, with Zelensky saying earlier this month that the entire Black Sea region will not be safe until the peninsula is recaptured.
“This Russian war against Ukraine and against the whole of free Europe begins with Crimea and must end with Crimea – with its liberation,” he said.
AP Supplemental Report