Within an hour of the first videos hitting social media and widely circulating, Russia’s defense ministry has said the large explosion at its Crimean Saky Airbase was not the result of an airstrike or shelling. The statement said ammunition stored at the airfield detonated, but the cause of what ignited the storage depot is still unknown and being investigated. Russian state media has published the following English-language statements of the defense ministry:

The Russian Defense Ministry has reacted to reports of explosions near the town of Novofedorovka in Crimea, saying that a detonation of several rounds of air-launched ammunition had taken place at the Saki airfield located not far from the town.

The detonated ammunition was stored at the airfield’s bunded storage area, the ministry said, adding that the ensuing blasts did not result in casualties or damage to aircrafts. The resulting fire is in the process of being put out, the Defense Ministry elaborated.

The ammo’s detonation did not happen due to shelling or an airstrike on the airport, the ministry underscored.

Local social media reports cited eyewitness accounts which said ambulances and emergency crews are speeding toward the site of the large explosion.

Nearby beachgoers in Crimea looked on stunned, given the ongoing Ukraine war has never before reached the environs of the territory which Russia controversially formally took over in 2014 following the so-called “Crimea crisis” and referendum. 

One person has been killed in a series of explosions that rocked a Russian military airfield in Crimea on Tuesday afternoon, the region’s governor has revealed. Five more people have sustained minor injuries as a result of the incident, according to the local health ministry. 

Officials in Moscow earlier put the blasts down to an accidental detonation of ammunition and denied they had been caused by an enemy attack.

Sergey Aksyonov, the head of Crimea, who is at the Saki airfield, posted a video on his Telegram channel, saying that “unfortunately, now official information is coming in, unfortunately, we have one fatality.” The official pledged to issue updates on social media if and when more details are established.  

Crimea’s health ministry, in turn, has confirmed that five people injured in the incident, including a child, have been hospitalized, with their condition being described as non-life-threatening.