A Russian SU-34 aircraft Monday crashed into a nine-story residential building in a town on the coast of the Sea of Azov, near Ukraine, sending up a fireball that engulfed a building and left at least 13 people dead, according to Russian officials.
In a photo shared on the Kooperativ Telegram channel and distributed by the Associated Press, and verified by The Washington Post, a parachutist, presumed to be a member of the two-person crew, can be seen soaring over the site of the impact in the port town and resort of Yeysk, in Krasnodar krai (territory). Videos shared widely on social media and verified by The Post show plumes of smoke rising from the billowing flames.
At least 13 people died, including three children, and 19 people were injured, the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said in a statement Tuesday morning. It earlier had reported four deaths, before more bodies were found in the rubble.
Russia’s state-owned news agency RIA Novosti reported that the crew ejected from the plane before the crash. It posted video from the scene that appeared to show one crew member lying on a street near the crash site, in a helmet, harness and parachute. Photos were also captured of the crew in the air with their parachutes.
Emergency services were sent to the crash site, Krasnodar officials said. Local burn specialists, ambulance teams, psychologists and surgeons specializing in trauma and burns were among those sent, said Anna Minkova, deputy governor of Krasnodar, on Telegram. Russia’s Emergencies Ministry added that it took 410 people and 105 pieces of equipment to extinguish the fire. One victim had burns on 70 percent of their body and was airlifted to a burn center, she said, adding that other victims were also hospitalized.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was briefed on the crash by local officials, and instructed the country’s emergencies minister and health minister to fly to the site of the crash to assist victims, according to a Kremlin statement.
The Post geolocated the site of the crash: a complex next to a shopping mall and stores about a kilometer from the coast of the Sea of Azov, across from Mariupol.
Two hours after he first reported the crash, Krasnodar Governor Veniamin Kondratiev said on Telegram that the fire was at the “final stage of extinguishing.” He posted a video of firefighters taking a hose to a burned-out building. Russia’s Emergencies Ministry said there was no longer a threat to nearby houses.
Russia’s Investigative Committee said Tuesday morning that it has military investigators and forensics specialists at the scene of the crash, looking at flight recorders and questioning the pilots and airfield staff. The committee said the working theory on the reason for the crash was technical failure.
Robyn Dixon contributed to this report.
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