A Russian military aircraft crashed into an apartment complex in the southern city of Yeysk, near the Ukraine border, according to local media.
Videos and photos shared on social media showed what appeared to be the SU-34 fighter jet bursting into flames mid-air before crashing into a residential building and engulfing it in a massive fire.
Russian officials said at least 13 people died, including three children, according to Russian media reports. The defense ministry said that an engine had caught fire on takeoff during the plane’s training flight, state news agencies reported.
The Russian Investigative Committee, a federal agency responsible for monitoring corruption, said it was opening a criminal investigation into the crash.
The pilots were reportedly ejected from the aircraft before it exploded, according to Kevin Rothrock, a journalist for Meduza, who shared videos of what appeared to be the crew members floating down in parachutes next to the crash site.
This the 10th military plane that Russia has lost this year in a non-combat incident, according to The Bell, an independent digital news agency covering Russian affairs.
While Russia has attempted to modernize its air force in recent years, the Atlantic reports that it still suffers from “flawed logistics operations” and the lack of regular training for pilots. And in Ukraine, the Russian military is losing dozens of its newest aircrafts owing to the lack of precision-guided munitions, Forbes reports.