A huge fire was burning in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol on Saturday after what was reported to be a Ukrainian drone strike on fuel tanks at a Russian navy depot.
Video footage posted on social media showed a large waterside area on fire, with a column of black smoke rising from the burning fuel. Other images showed a huge pall of smoke hanging over the area.
More than a dozen fuel tanks are situated at the site in Kozacha Bay.
The strike, reportedly by a “kamikaze” drone, came a day after a wave of missile attacks on Ukrainian cities killed 26 people, including many in an apartment block in Uman in the Cherkasy region.
The drone strike, which occurred at 4.30am, was still burning hours later and a firefighting train was reportedly brought in to try to extinguish the blaze.
“According to preliminary information, the fire was caused by a drone hit,” the city’s Russia-installed governor, Mikhail Razvozhayev, wrote on Telegram.
“The situation is under the control of our firefighters and all operative services,” he said. “Since the volume of fuel is large, it will take time to localise the fire.”
Razvozhayev said the fire was assigned the highest ranking – level four – in terms of how complicated it would be to extinguish. He said it had not caused any casualties and would not hinder fuel supplies in Sevastopol.
Razvozhayev reported earlier this week that the Russian military had destroyed a Ukrainian sea drone that attempted to attack the harbour, and another one had blown up, shattering windows in several apartment buildings but not inflicting any other damage.
Sevastopol has been a regular target of drone attacks, especially in recent weeks. The city, on the Crimean peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, has come under repeated air attacks since Russia’s invasion of its neighbour in February last year.
Russian officials have blamed the attacks on Ukraine. The Ukrainian military did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday. Kyiv almost never publicly claims responsibility for attacks inside Russia or on Russian-controlled territory in Ukraine.
Russia’s missile strikes on Friday killed 26 people including five children, as Kyiv said preparations for a counteroffensive against Moscow’s forces were nearly complete.
The most serious casualties were caused by a strike on a residential block in Uman that killed 23 people.
Rescue workers in Uman, the site of an annual Hasidic Jewish pilgrimage, pulled the body of another child from under the rubble on Friday evening. Authorities said four children in the city had been killed by the cruise missile strikes.
Earlier in the day, Dmitry, a 33-year-old resident from Luhansk, an eastern city under Russian control, was looking for his children.
“I want to see my children. They are under the rubble,” he said.
Rescuers were using cranes to search for survivors among the remains of the multi-storey housing block in the city of 80,000 inhabitants.
“I’ve seen a lot, but I haven’t lost my children before. Now I want to see my children, alive or dead,” Dmitry said.