Fire engulfs Russian Baltic sea gas terminal (VIDEO)
A fire has erupted at the export terminal of Novatek, Russia’s second-largest natural gas producer, Leningrad Region Governor Alexander Drozdenko confirmed early on Sunday morning.
There were no casualties reported as a result of the blaze at the commercial Baltic sea port of Ust-Luga.
Authorities have placed Kingisepp district on high alert and conducted an evacuation of the port terminal. Firefighters and first responders have been dispatched to the scene, according to district chief Yuri Zapalatsky.
Although the cause of the fire remains unknown, the residents of nearby towns said that they heard the sound of UAVs preceding the explosion. Local newspaper Fontanka reported that around the time of the incident, St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Airport introduced its so-called Kovyor (carpet) mode, when aircraft departures and landings are prohibited due to an external threat.
Ust-Luga is the largest port on the Baltic Sea, located approximately 170 kilometers from St. Petersburg and 35 kilometers from the Estonian border. It has 12 terminals, designed to handle oil and gas, fertilizers, LNG as well as timber, and grain.
Earlier this week, the Russian military said it had thwarted a Ukrainian drone attack over the St. Petersburg area, which according to the local media, targeted an oil terminal. A propeller-driven aircraft loaded with 3kg of explosives was shot down.
Ukraine has regularly targeted infrastructure in Russian border regions with drone and missile strikes, although attacks on targets as far away as Leningrad Region – around 1,000km from the Ukrainian border – are rarer.
On Saturday night and Sunday evening, Russian air defense systems intercepted multiple UAVs over the Smolensk and Tula regions, but authorities have yet to confirm the cause of the incident in Ust Luga.