Plane mistakenly drops bomb on Russian city of Belgorod

Russia’s military has acknowledged that a bomb accidentally dropped by one of its warplanes caused a loud explosion in a Russian town not far from the Ukrainian border, injuring two people and causing panic among the population.

Belgorod, a city of about 340,000 located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of the border, has faced regular drone strikes that Russian authorities blame on the Ukrainian military, but Thursday night’s explosion was far more serious. powerful than heard before by the population.

Witnesses said a low hiss preceded an explosion that rocked nearby apartment buildings and caused a vehicle to plow onto the roof of a store.

The bomb left a crater 20 meters (66 feet) in diameter in the middle of a tree-lined avenue lined with residential buildings, shattering their windows, damaging several vehicles and injuring two residents. A third person was later hospitalized with high blood pressure.

Immediately after the explosion, Russian military bloggers and commentators went on a rampage with theories about the weapon Ukraine used in the alleged attack. Many demanded a strong retaliation.

However, an hour later, Russia’s Defense Ministry acknowledged that the explosion was caused by a weapon accidentally dropped by one of its Su-34 bombers.

The ministry did not elaborate but military experts said the weapon was possibly a powerful 500-kilogram (1,100-pound) bomb.

Military experts said the weapon was apparently calibrated to explode with a short delay after impact. The bomb was intended to attack underground facilities.

Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said local authorities decided to temporarily relocate residents of a nine-story apartment building near where the blast happened while they checked it to ensure it had no irreparable structural damage.

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In an editorial blunder, a Russian state television presenter followed up on news about local authorities dealing with the aftermath of the explosion by declaring that “modern weapons allow Russian units to eliminate extremists in the area of ​​the operation.” special military from a minimum distance”. The presenter seemed visibly puzzled by the text he had just read.

Russian commentators questioned why the fighter jet flew over Belgorod and urged the military to avoid such risky overflights.

Some alleged that the bomb accidentally dropped on Belgorod could be part of a batch of modified munitions equipped with wings and a GPS-guided guidance system that allows them to glide towards targets dozens of kilometers (miles) away. The Russian air force has recently started using such glide bombs and according to some experts they could be prone to failure.

In October, a Russian warplane crashed next to a residential building in the Azov Sea port city of Yeysk, killing 15 people. Yeysk is home to a large Russian airbase with fighter jets flying missions over Ukraine.

Military experts have pointed out that as the number of Russian military flights has increased sharply during the fighting, so have accidents and failed attacks.

In another deadly incident in the Belgorod region, two volunteer soldiers fired at Russian troops at a military firing range, killing 11 soldiers and wounding 15 others before being shot dead.

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