A Russian military bomber crashed Monday into the courtyard of an apartment complex in the Russian resort town of Yeysk, which is a few dozen miles across the Sea of Azov from Ukraine, Russia’s Defense Ministry said. Four people died and 25 others were injured.
Calling it an accident, the Defense Ministry said the pilot had been performing a training flight of the SU-34 aircraft when the engine ignited during takeoff.
The plane crashed into the grounds of the apartment complex after the pilots ejected, the ministry added in a statement. It did not say how many people were forced to eject.
Regional authorities said that four people were killed and 25 others were injured, including three children. Earlier they said eight were in critical condition.
“They were poisoned by combustion products,” the deputy governor of the Krasnodar territory, Anna Minkova, said on her Telegram channel. “Everyone was taken to the hospital.”
In video verified by NBC News, the wail of sirens can be heard as huge flames licked up multiple stories of the building after it was set alight by the crash.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was told about the crash and sent ministers from his Cabinet and the local governor to address the situation, the Kremlin said on its Telegram channel. The governor of the Krasnodar territory, Veniamin Kondratiev, the head of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, Alexander Kurenkov, and Health Minister Mikhail Murashko were directed “to fly to the scene of the incident to provide all the necessary assistance to the victims” at the direction of Putin, the message added.
The military arm of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, the main investigative apparatus of the Kremlin, said on its official Telegram channel that it had opened a probe into the crash and sent criminologists and investigators to the scene to establish “the circumstances and causes of the incident.” It also said that it had opened a criminal case, but did not provide any additional details.
While the crash occurred close to Ukraine, where war has been raging since the Russian invasion Feb. 24, there was no immediate indication that Kyiv was involved. The Armed Forces of Ukraine and its Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
This is the 10th reported noncombat crash of a Russian warplane since the invasion began, according to The Associated Press.
There have also been a number of unexplained fires in Ukrainian territory held by Russia and within its borders since the war began. There was a large fire at a Russian military enlistment office in June, according to a report from Komsomolskaya Pravda, a Russian tabloid. A warehouse containing optical, thermal and night vision equipment also went up in flames in June, according to reports from local Russian news site RZN. A military installation exploded in May in the country’s east, according to the Russian news site Tass.
There have been similar unexplained incidents that occurred at others sites in recent months, including ammunition depots, military buildings and communication infrastructure.
CORRECTION (Oct. 17, 2022, 4:20 p.m. ET) A previous version of this article misstated which Russian agency provided the numbers of dead and injured as a result of the crash. It was the Krasnodar Territory’s regional operational headquarters, not the Defense Ministry.