19:23 / 12.03.2022.

Author: Katja Miličić

Still few answers to drone crash mystery

The drone crash site in Zagreb

The drone crash site in Zagreb

Foto: Zeljko Hladika / PIXSELL

Croatian investigators are working on extracting the wreckage of a military drone that crashed in Zagreb on Thursday evening. 

The drone has a wingspan of 4 meters and weighs six tons. It crashed near student dormitories by Jarun Lake, leaving a three-meter wide crater in the ground. Luckily, no one was hurt in the crash. Some 40 cars were damaged. The dorm nearest the crash site has been evacuated.

What is known, so far, is that the drone is Russian-made, a Soviet-era Tupolev Tu-141 “Strizh”. It came from Ukraine but both Russia and Ukraine deny the drone is theirs, said Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Saturday during a visit to the crash site.

"We don't know whose drone it is. According to statements they have made, both the Russians and the Ukrainians deny it is theirs. Was this an accident, a mistake or was it intentional? We don't know right now. We are going to try to dig out the aircraft and collect any data that may give us some valuable clues," said Pleknović.

Croatian officials expressed frustration that the drone flew from Ukraine over three NATO member states - Romania, Hungary, and Croatia - without anyone raising the alarm. Romania said the drone was in their airspace for only minutes but took nearly an hour to cross over Hungary, which did not warn its neighbor. NATO said the alliance's integrated air and missile defense had tracked the drone's flight path. However, Plenković said Croatia was not informed and that NATO reacted only in response to questions from journalists. The PM added he would raise the issue with Hungarian officials and other NATO allies. Croatia cannot tolerate this situation, he said.

"This was a pure and clear threat and both NATO and the EU should have reacted," he said.

Investigators will try to pull the drone out of the ground, where it is firmly lodged and take it to another location where it can be thoroughly examined. They are hoping to extract data that will help them learn more about its mission and origins.

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