Russia’s military has acknowledged that a bomb accidentally dropped by one of its warplanes caused a powerful blast in a Russian city not far from Ukraine’s border.
The explosion on late Thursday was far more powerful than anything Belgorod residents had experienced before. Two people were injured, and a third person was later hospitalised with hypertension, authorities said.
Witnesses reported a low hissing sound followed by a blast that made nearby apartment buildings tremble and shattered their windows.
It left a 20-metre (66-foot) -wide crater in the middle of a tree-lined boulevard flanked by apartments, damaged several cars and threw one vehicle onto a store roof.
Immediately after the explosion, Russian commentators and military bloggers were abuzz with theories about what weapon Ukraine had used for the attack. Many of them called for strong retribution.
But about an hour later, the Russian Defence Ministry acknowledged that a weapon accidentally released by one of its own Su-34 bombers caused the blast.
The ministry did not provide any further details, but military experts said the weapon likely was a powerful 500-kilogram (1,100-pound) bomb.
Increased crashes and misfires
Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said local authorities decided to temporarily resettle residents of a nine-story apartment building while it was inspected to make sure it hadn’t suffered structural damage that rendered it unsafe to live in.
Russian commentators questioned why the warplane flew over Belgorod and urged the military to avoid such risky overflights in the future.
Military experts have noted that as the number of Russian military flights have increased sharply during the fighting, so have crashes and misfires.
In October, a Russian warplane crashed next to a residential building in the port city of Yeysk on the Sea of Azov, killing 15 people. Yeysk hosts a big Russian air base with warplanes that fly missions over Ukraine.
Belgorod, a city of 340,000 located about 40 kilometres (25 miles) east of the Russia-Ukraine border, has faced regular drone attacks during Russia’s current military operation in Ukraine.
Russian authorities blamed the earlier strikes on the Ukrainian military, which refrained from directly claiming responsibility for the attacks.
In another deadly incident in the Belgorod region, two volunteer soldiers fired at Russian troops at a military firing range, killing 11 and wounding 15 others before being shot dead.
READ MORE: Fighter plane crashes into residential building in southern Russia
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