A Russian SU-34 aircraft crashed into a nine-story residential building near the southern Russian city of Krasnodar on Monday, sending up a fireball that engulfed a building and left at least four dead, according to Russian officials.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said the fighter-bomber crashed after its engine burst into flames during a training flight from a military airfield. The plane crashed into the complex’s courtyard and set the building ablaze, Russian state-run media agency Tass.
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. Videos shared widely on social media and verified by The Post show plumes of smoke rising from the billowing flames.
At least four people died and 25 were injured, the Russian Emergencies Ministry said in a statement Monday night. That toll could climb.
Russia’s RIA news reported that the crew ejected from the plane before the crash. Video from the scene posted by Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti 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 he 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 crash took place in the Russian port and resort town of Yeskyk. 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 on the crash, Krasnodar Governor Veniamin Kondratiev on Telegram said 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 it had opened a criminal case into the plane crash, sending military investigators to establish the causes and details of the incident.