(Moscow) Moscow said one of its fighter jets lost ammunition over Belgorod, a Russian town near the Ukrainian border, on Thursday night after local authorities reported a powerful explosion that injured two people and left a huge crater in the city.
“During the flight of the Su-34 aircraft of the Aerospace Forces over the city of Belgorod, an abnormal fall of aviation ammunition occurred,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.
The statement picked up by Russian news agencies adds that the incident occurred at 10:15 p.m. local time (3:15 p.m. Eastern).
Russian planes have regularly carried out sorties over Belgorod since the launch of Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine in February 2022.
Local officials reported a powerful explosion in Belgorod in the evening, saying the blast left a crater in the city center and injured two women.
“An explosion has occurred,” Belgorod Region Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said, adding that the blast left a 20-meter-diameter crater at the crossroads of the city’s central thoroughfares.
Citing an interim toll, Gladkov said one woman was hospitalized for a head injury, while another was treated at the scene.
“The windows of a nearby apartment building were damaged, the blast from the explosion damaged several parked cars and knocked down electricity poles,” he added on the Telegram messaging app.
He also said that investigators and representatives of the Ministry of Emergency Situations were at the scene.
Mr Gladkov and Belgorod Mayor Valentin Demidov posted photos of the damage on social media.
One shows residents huddled in front of an apartment building, a woman holding a small dog, and a fire truck nearby.
On Telegram, Demidov posted images showing asphalt ripped open by the blast, debris in front of a building and the interior of an apartment destroyed by the blast.
Demidov said residents of the damaged buildings would be temporarily relocated to hotels.
The Russian region of Belgorod, bordering Ukraine, is regularly hit by fire, sometimes fatal, attributed by Moscow to Ukraine.
In January Vyacheslav Gladkov said 25 people had been killed and more than 90 injured in the region since the start of the offensive.
In October 2022, an SU-34 crashed into a residential building in the southern Russian city of Yeysk, also near the border with Ukraine, killing 16 people, including several children.
Finally, in July 2022, Mr. Gladkov claimed that explosions near the center of Belgorod had left at least four people dead and four injured. The Russian army then claimed to have shot down three Ukrainian missiles launched against the city.