One dead, several injured in blasts near Russian air base in Crimea – Officials

Multiple explosions near a Russian naval air base on the west coast of annexed Crimea killed one person and injured several others on Tuesday, according to witness accounts and local pro-Kremlin officials.

Videos Eyewitness footage shows a huge plume of black smoke rising from the direction of the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s Saki air base and bathers fleeing into the nearby resort town of Novofyodorovka.

A total of 13 explosions of varying intensity were reported in the area, according to an eyewitness reports quoted by Reuters.

Local officials confirmed an explosion had occurred but said they were still working to determine the cause.

“I can confirm the fact of several explosions in the Novofyodorovka region. I ask everyone to wait for official information and not to spread [fake] explanations,” Oleg Kryuchkov, an aide to Moscow-based Crimean leader Sergei Aksyonov, told the Telegram messaging app.

Officials initially said no one was injured, but Aksyonov later said one person died from the explosions.

Earlier on Tuesday, the region’s top health official said five people, including a child, had been injured.

Aksoynov published a video from the site of the explosion, where he can be seen saying that residential buildings near the air base have been evacuated.

The air base is located deep in the territory under Russian control 200 kilometers behind the front linesleading to speculation that the incident may have been the result of a long-range missile strike by Kyiv forces.

An unnamed senior Ukrainian military official told The New York Times that Kyiv forces were in fact behind the explosions.

“It was an air base from which planes regularly took off for attacks against our forces in the southern theatre,” the official told the New York Times, saying only that “an exclusively Ukrainian-made aircraft been used” in the strike.

The Russian Defense Ministry, however, linked the incident to the “detonation of several aviation munitions” in a statement. gate by the state-run TASS news agency.

“As a result of the explosion, no one was injured.”

Margarita Simonyan, editor of the Kremlin-backed RT network, was also quick to dismiss rumors that the blasts were the result of a Ukrainian attack.

“And here is what really happened. Several munitions exploded in the storage area. No problem. The equipment is also intact,” Simonyan tweeted.

Russian-installed Crimean officials have also dismissed rumors that Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared a state of emergency in the region.

“I ask you not to spread fake Ukrainians”, Kryuchkov written, attached a photo of the fake order allegedly posted by a pro-Ukrainian Telegram channel with less than 200 subscribers.

AFP contributed reporting.

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