Fifteen civilians have been announced dead after a crash of an SU-34 fighter in the residential district of the seashore city of Yeysk in Southern Russia. The pilots ejected before the crash.
The incident happened on the night of October 17, when most of the 9-story building residents were home. The crash of the fighter caused a fuel leak and an extensive fire that required 6 hours to extinguish.
A total of 72 apartments were damaged. Children are among the victims; three of them died in or shortly after the incident.
Russian officials identified the cause of the crash as a faulty ignition of one of the engines during takeoff. A video appeared on the internet with one of the ejected pilots, whom passers-by saw. He was conscious and rejected the story that the plane was shot down.
The video of the incident reveals the sound of small explosions, probably caused by the cartridges from the onboard training cannon. The initiated investigation will enable authorities to establish a cause for engine failure and pinpoint a reason for the pilots' ejection.
The city of Yeysk is located less than nineteen miles from the nearest settlement on the opposite shore of the Sea of Azov within the front line. According to independent media, the crash in Yeysk became at least the tenth non-combat loss of Russian military aviation since the beginning of the war. On February 24, Russia launched a large-scale military operation on the territory of Ukraine. There is a naval aviation training center located in Yeysk, although no mention was made of the military arsenal of the training center in open sources until now.
The SU-34 is one of the leading Russian front-line bombers. It was put into service in 2014 and became a replacement for the earlier Su-24 model. The Su-34 operates with two Saturn AL-31F turbofans and performs with a combat radius of up to 683.5 miles. As of 2015, the Russian Air Force operated 76 of these aircraft.
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