Huge explosions rock Crimea: Mushroom cloud seen rising near Russian military airbase after ‘multiple’ blasts as shocked beach-goers watch on
- Eyewitnesses reported at least 12 distinct explosions in Novofedorivka, Crimea
- The explosions occurred in the direction of a Russian held military airbase
- The airbase is located more than 130 miles from nearest Ukrainian-held territory
- Source of the blasts has not yet been determined, according to Russian officials
- BREAKING: More to follow
Several explosions have rung out close to a military airbase in Russian-held Crimea, it has emerged today.
At least 12 distinct explosions were reported by eyewitnesses, according to various sources, over the course of a minute around 3:30pm local time this afternoon.
Yet another blast was triggered around 30 minutes later, causing large plumes of thick black smoke to snake from the direction of the base in Novofedorivka, Western Crimea.
Russia annexed the peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and has occupied the territory ever since despite widespread condemnation from much of the international community.
The source of the explosions has not yet been determined.
Novofedorivka is located more than 130 miles from the nearest part of mainland Ukraine not occupied by Putin’s troops.
Videos shared on the Telegram messaging app showed the aftermath of the explosions, with tourists fleeing from a nearby beach and police urging people to take cover.
Oleg Kryuchkov, an advisor to the head of the Russian-occupied peninsula Sergei Aksyonov, refused to speculate on the incident, telling Russia’s RIA Novosti: ‘So far, I can only confirm the fact that several explosions occurred in the Novofedorivka area.
‘I ask everyone to wait for official messages and not to produce their own version of events.’
Aksyonov meanwhile told followers via Telegram he was en route to the blast site and that ‘circumstances are being clarified’.
Large plumes of black smoke are seen snaking from the direction of the Novofedorivka airbase
It is unclear whether the explosion emanated directly from the base itself
At least 12 distinct explosions were reported by eyewitnesses, according to various sources
Shocked beachgoers watched on as the smoke began billowing from the direction of the base
Emergency services from the nearby town of Saky were deployed to the blast site, the TASS news agency reported, citing the regional health ministry, while locals reported congestion on roads leading away from the coast as members of the public fled.
The airbase close to Saky and Novofedorivka is home to Russia’s 43rd Separate Naval Assault Aviation Regiment of the Black Sea Fleet.
A variety of Russian air force planes are stationed at the base, including Su-30SM, Su-24M and Su-24MP fighter jets and Tu-134 freight aircraft.
Crimea has so far been spared the intense bombardment and artillery combat that have taken place in other areas of eastern and southern Ukraine since Feb. 24, when President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian armed forces into Ukraine – including some based in the peninsula.