MOSCOW (Al Jazeera/Reuters) – A drone attack has hit a major Russian oil refinery near the border with Ukraine, the plant’s management said, sending a ball of flame and black smoke billowing into the sky and prompting the suspension of operations.
Officials at the Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery in Russia’s Rostov region said the first drone attacked at 8:40am (05:40GMT), hitting a crude distillation unit, triggering a blast and ball of fire.
The second attack, at 9:23am, targeted crude oil reservoirs at the refinery, the largest supplier of oil products in southern Russia, but caused no fire, according to plant management. No one was reported injured.
Russian regions bordering Ukraine have reported attacks and shelling after Moscow sent its troops into its neighbor on February 24 for what it still calls a “special military operation”.
The refinery is in southwestern Russia, just 8km (5 miles) from the border with Ukraine.
“As a result of terrorist actions from the Western border of the Rostov region, two unmanned aerial vehicles struck at the technological facilities of Novoshakhtinsk,” a statement from the plant said.
“Staff have been evacuated and technological equipment has been stopped to assess the damage.”
There was no immediate comment from Ukrainian officials on the alleged attack.
Earlier in the day, a Russian missile strike killed at least one person and damaged buildings including a school in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv, the local mayor said.
The attacks caused several fires, damaged a number of residential and business buildings and left smoke hanging over the port city, Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych said.
“I keep saying it’s still dangerous in the city. Before, people were going out in droves but they go out less now,” he said on national television.
Regional Governor Vitaliy Kim said earlier on Wednesday that seven missiles had hit Mykolaiv. Grain handler Viterra said its Everi terminal in Mykolaiv was on fire after being hit in an attack but that no one had been killed there.