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29 May, 2009 11:15

Navy ship shells village near St Petersburg

A ship of the Russian Baltic Fleet gave one hell of a scare to residents of a coastal village when it unexpectedly shelled them with an autocannon.

A corvette-class antisubmarine vessel was on exercise in the Gulf of Finland on Thursday. For reasons yet to be determined it shot several shells from its autocannon into the air over the local village Pesochnoe. According to Interfax news agency, the incident happened when the vessel was returning to its base in Kronshtadt seaport.

Thankfully no-one was hurt, and the damage reported by one resident was a little crack in a car windshield caused by a shell fragment which fell on it. Nonetheless, local residents were shaken.

“It was like metal hail! People ran to take cover in basements. One guy was in the orchard with his grandson. He fell on the kid and covered him with his body till the shelling was over,” told the community head to RIA Novosti agency.

The shell fragments were collected by police and delivered to the military prosecutors’ office.

A total of 14 shells from the ship’s AK-630 air defense cannon exploded over the village. The autocannon is a 30mm caliber six-barrel model with a rate of fire of up to 5,000 rpm and a maximum range of 4,000 meters. It usually operates in volleys of 400 shells and is used against aerial and sometimes surface targets. Each high-explosive shell weighs 400 grams and contains about 50 grams of explosives.

None of the victims of the attack voiced their intention to file a lawsuit against the Navy for the moment.

Military prosecutors are now investigating what made the crew target the civilian settlement. They have said no criminal charges will be pressed against sailors and officers involved.