Russia’s defense ministry said one of its warplanes dropped a bomb on a Russian city late Thursday. The Sukhoi-34 fighter jet bombed the city of Belgorod, around 40km (25 miles) from the border of Ukraine.
The bomb did not explode immediately. It detonated about 18 seconds after landing and left a 20m (60ft) crater blowing a car onto a supermarket roof in what state media called an “accidental” or “emergency” release of air ordinance.
The twin-engine fighter bomber was performing a flight over the city when the “accidental” drop took place, according to reports from the state news agency RIA Novosti.
The bomb landed at the intersection of two roads and next to residential buildings. Two women were taken to the hospital, but with the bomb landing so close to a residential district, the casualties could have been much worse.
Regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said authorities had ordered the evacuation of a damaged nine-story block of apartments as a precaution.
“Thank God no one was killed,” he said on social media.
Gladkov posted pictures on Telegram showing the extent of the damage, including shattered windows, damaged cars and apartment buildings, and debris covering the city’s streets.
The city of Belgorod, home to about 370,000 people, has been the target of mysterious fires throughout the invasion of Ukraine, with local authorities regularly reporting unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the area.
In December, Russian state media bragged about its new warplanes that had been delivered to Russian forces to use against Ukraine but did not give a specific number of planes delivered.
“The Su-34 will constitute the basic strike power of Russian frontline aircraft. The upgraded Su-34 warplane features extended combat capabilities enabling it to employ advanced air-launched munitions, increase the range of striking ground and naval targets and expand the conditions and accuracy of bombing runs,” a TASS report at the time said.
The planes can carry a myriad of munitions, including air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles as well as guided and unguided bombs. The Russian state media did not specify what kind of munition was dropped on Belgorod Thursday.