A major Russian oil and gas refinery close to the Ukrainian border was set ablaze when a drone allegedly controlled by Kyiv’s forces crashed into it yesterday, according to local authorities and the plant’s management.
The blaze came as Russia gained ground south of Severodonetsk. Footage circulated on Russian state media showed thick columns of black smoke pouring out of the Novoshakhtinsk Refinery OAO in the Rostov district, which borders eastern Ukraine, as firefighters battled to keep the fire under control.
Unconfirmed social-media footage appeared to show a drone crashing into the refinery, triggering a large blast, followed by fire spreading through the facility.
Local authorities told the TASS news agency that the fire started after a drone strike. The agency reported that two drones flew over the plant before the incident. Ukrainian and Russian defence officials didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
The remains of two drones were found at the site, local governor Vasily Golubev of the Rostov district told RIA, another Russian state news agency. The plant management told RIA that the fire had been caused by the drones.
The fire was put out just before noon and no one was injured. The refinery, which opened in 2009, is one of the newest in Russia and has an annual capacity of 7.5 million tons.
Governor Golubev of the Rostov district said on his telegram channel that work had been suspended at the plant and all staff had been evacuated following the incident.
This was the latest in a series of fires and explosions in the area close to the border with Ukraine that have been linked to suspected Ukrainian aerial attacks into Russian territory since the war started in February.