Explosions rock ammunition depot in Russian-annexed Crimea
A series of explosions occurred at an ammunition depot near the village of Maiske, Dzhankoy district, in the north of Crimea. The explosions began around 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, August 16, and lasted for several hours.
According to the head of Crimea Sergey Aksyonov, nearby residential buildings were also damaged and two local residents were injured. “One man with a shrapnel wound, one was crushed by a wall,” Aksyonov said. One of the victims was hospitalized in moderate condition, while the other was treated as an outpatient.
The authorities announced an evacuation of the area. Aksyonov noted that people were taken out of a five-kilometer (three-mile) zone and placed in schools in neighboring villages. A total of 3,000 people were reportedly evacuated.
The reasons for the incident are still unclear. The Russian Ministry of Defense reported that the detonation began after a fire at a temporary ammunition depot, noting that the causes of the fire itself are being investigated.
Update. The Russian Defense Ministry said in a later statement that the explosion was an “act of sabotage,” Interfax reported. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior Ukrainian official told the New York Times that an elite Ukrainian military unit was responsible for the blast. Kyiv has not officially claimed responsibility. However Zelensky adviser Mykhailo Podolyak hinted at Ukrainian involvement in a comment on Twitter: “A reminder: Crimea of normal country is about the Black Sea, mountains, recreation and tourism, but Crimea occupied by Russians is about warehouses explosions and high risk of death for invaders and thieves. Demilitarization in action.”
A transformer substation also caught fire in Dzhankoy on Tuesday morning. RIA Novosti cited a source as saying that the fire started “after a strong explosion.” About three hours later, the Crimean Ministry of Energy reported that the fire had been contained, stressing that the incident did not disrupt power supply to consumers. Possible causes of the fire have not yet been reported.