Russia’s military acknowledged that a bomb accidentally dropped by one of its warplanes – Sukhoi-34 fighter jet – caused a powerful blast in a city not far from Ukraine’s border, injuring three and scaring local residents.
Belgorod, a city of 340,000 located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of the Russia-Ukraine border, has faced regular drone attacks during Russia’s current military operation in Ukraine.
The bomb left a 20m (60ft) crater and caused an explosion so large it blew a car onto the roof of a nearby shop.
Regional Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said authorities had ordered the evacuation of a damaged nine-storey block of flats as a precaution.
Three people had been injured, he said.
“Thank God there are no dead,” Vyacheslav Gladkov said in a statement on Telegram, adding that an apartment building had been evacuated overnight.
A video posted on social media showed the impact of the blast, lifting a vehicle onto the roof of a supermarket as traffic streamed along Prospekt Vatutina, close to the centre of the city.
In a brief statement, the Russian defence ministry admitted that one of its Su-34 fighter bombers had “accidentally discharged aircraft ordnance” at 22:15 local time (19:15 GMT) on Thursday.
It was a bureaucratic way of saying that the jet had mistakenly fired a weapon. It didn’t specify which one.
The bomb landed at an intersection of two roads not far from the city centre and next to residential buildings.
Two women were taken to the hospital for treatment, according to the governor. But with a Russian bomber hitting a busy residential district the consequences could have been far worse.
CCTV footage of the incident showed a series of cars passing a crossroads before an object lands on the ground nearby.
There was no immediate explosion. It detonated approximately 18 seconds later, blowing up a section of the road, catching one of the cars as it passes and sending a parked car flying into the air before it landed on the supermarket roof.
The military says it has launched an investigation into the incident. Quoting a former military pilot, pro-government news site, Moskovsky Komsomolets suggested “the conclusions [of the investigation] are unlikely to be made public, but lessons will be learned”.
By morning maintenance workers had begun the work of repairing the busy intersection in Belgorod. The mayor said much of the work would take place at the weekend and the road would be resurfaced on Monday.
The regional governor said Belgorod’s residents had endured a difficult night but would get through it.
Russian jets regularly fly over Belgorod, a city of 370,000, on their way to Ukraine.
It lies just north of Ukraine’s second city, Kharkiv, and has come under periodic Ukrainian attack since the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine last year.