Sochi fuel depot goes up in flames in suspected first drone strike on Putin’s summer resort town

The fire at Sochi’s fuel depot was extinguished and the cause is being investigated, officials say  (Screengrab/Telegram/Baza)
The fire at Sochi’s fuel depot was extinguished and the cause is being investigated, officials say (Screengrab/Telegram/Baza)

A suspected “kamikaze drone” attack targeted resort city Sochi where Vladimir Putin spends his summer holidays and led to a massive fuel tank going up in flames, said officials.

This is the first suspected drone strike made on the Russian president’s resort city during the course of his full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Mr Putin has also hosted the 2014 Olympic games in the city.

Drone and missile attacks deep inside Russia and on Russia-controlled territories have shot up in recent months. News of the latest attack comes amid Russia claiming it downed several drones near Sevastopol in Crimea, that Mr Putin had illegally annexed in 2014, as well as drone strikes over the Belgorod and Oryol oblasts.

The fire in Sochi was extinguished shortly after it began early Wednesday and no casualties were recorded, mayor Alexei Kopaigorodskyi said on his Telegram channel, adding that the cause is being investigated.

More than 60 firefighters were deployed to bring the blaze under control in the Adler district of the Black Sea resort town, the official said. Locals reported the fire erupted after an explosion around 5am in the morning.

The fire radius was reported to be around 96 metres. Russian Telegram channel SHOT said the blaze was seen on a tank with 1,200 tons of fuel.

Security and surveillance footage of the diesel fuel tanker on fire on several local telegram channels showed a massive explosion at 5.16am. After the explosion, the fuel facility was covered in a huge cloud of billowing smoke and in what was suspected to be tons of fuel burning for hours.

The visuals also captured some officials trying to bring the fire under control while another staff present at the site was picking up fragments of a drone from the site.

One official was seen holding what appeared to be the wing of a damaged drone as he was walking out.

Telegram channel Baza, related to Russia’s security services that has a following of over a million, said the cause behind the fire in Sochi was a “drone attack”.

It claimed a kamikaze drone crashed into a tank with diesel fuel, as per preliminary reports.

“Judging by the video, the characteristic sound of a UAV was heard before the explosion,” the Telegram channel said in a post. Another video of the attack from a residential area captured a thundering blast around the same time.

Other videos of the oil depot taken in the morning of the tourism hotspot showed heavy flames engulfing the facility.

The explosion took place near the Sochi airport, but authorities there continued operating as normal, the press service of the airport told Russian news agencies.