Russian President Vladimir Putin has been briefed on the explosions at a reported Russian ammunition dump in occupied Crimea, the Kremlin spokesperson told reporters on Wednesday, as thousands are evacuated from the area.
“This has been reported to the president,” Dmitry Peskov said in response to a reporter question about a fire at the training ground where the ammunition dump is reportedly located.
Peskov said the the Russian-installed leader of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, “responded very quickly.”
“We know there was a fire. Urgent measures are being taken, the situation is being clarified. For now, I can't say more."
Rolling explosions force mass evacuation: The explosions have forced thousands of people to evacuate and prompted leaders there to redirect traffic away from a local highway.
Videos on social media show cascading explosions at the site near Stary Krym in Crimea’s Kirorvsky district.
The Russia-backed leader of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, said on Telegram that “a fire occurred at a military training ground.”
The original cause of the fire is not known. The well-known Grey Zone Telegram channel suggested that a Ukrainian Storm Shadow missile was responsible for the strike, but there is no official corrobration of that claim. An insurgent Ukrainian group in Crimea, Atesh, celebrated the fire but said that it was not responsible.
The Rybar Telegram channel said that the first explosions were heard in the 4 a.m. local time (Tuesday 9 p.m. ET).
Explosions continue to be heard six hours after the original reported explosions, a correspondent for Russian state media TASS reported. The head of Crimea’s parliament said that it could take two days to fully extinguish the blaze, according to Russian state media.
Both the Grey Zone Telegram and Atesh referred to the site as an ammunition dump. That claim is supported by the cascading explosions that can be seen in the social media videos.
Askenov said that residents of four surrounding villages – more than 2,000 people – were being evacuated.