At least six reported dead in Russia after military plane hits building

A Russian military jet has crashed into a residential building shortly after taking off near the border with Ukraine, sparking a major fire that has reportedly left at least six people dead and six missing.

Video and photographs uploaded to social media on Monday showed a residential building engulfed in flames in Yeysk, a port and resort town in Russia located just south of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol across the Sea of Azov.

A pilot descends in a parachute as the military plane explodes in a fireball after impact with the building. Photograph: Kooperativ Telegram Channel/AP

The Su-34 fighter-bomber crashed into the building shortly after take-off at the nearby Yuzhny airbase, the Russian defence ministry said in a statement. The cause of the crash was an engine fire that prevented the jet, which can be used on bombing runs or to engage other aircraft, from gaining altitude.

The plane, which the ministry said was on a training flight, was carrying a payload that detonated after impact, preventing firefighters from reaching the fire for some time. Video showed at least five storeys of the residential flats engulfed in flames.

Both pilots managed to eject from the jet before it struck the building, the ministry said.

A photograph showed at least one of the pilots ejected from the plane before impact, catapulting into the sky and deploying an orange parachute as a massive fireball exploded into the sky behind him.

Interfax reported that at least six people had died, 19 were injured and six remained missing after the crash and ensuing fire.

“It fell right over us. Everything is in black smoke,” a witness said in a video shared by the channel. “Mom, do you understand? Ten metres and that could have been us.”

The crash came on the same day as Russia launched a sustained air attack against Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities in an attempt to disable their energy grids and leave millions of civilians without heating or electricity.

Russia launched dozens of Iranian-made suicide drones at the Ukrainian cities, in the first known use of the loitering munitions against the Ukrainian capital.

The plane in Yeysk is the 10th Russian military jet to have crashed since Russia launched its invasion in February, according to the Bell, a Russian media outlet. The majority have been strike aircraft and transport planes, including two Su-34s in the last month.

The crash also highlights the strain of the eight-month-old war on the Russian military machine. It occurred just days after several soldiers opened fire at a training camp in the Belgorod region, killing more than a dozen and raising more questions about the quality of the recruits that Russia is rushing to the front to hold back a successful Ukrainian counterattack.

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