The 50-year-old man, who had not been identified, was diving for sea snails moments before the explosion happened, officials said Sunday. The blast flung his body into the air as his wife, child and a friend unpacked their bags on the shore.
The national guard warned that although the mines lurk underwater, they can also be “brought to shore by the current at any moment.”
Mines are a growing problem throughout Ukraine’s waterways. The war-torn country’s lakes and rivers are also filled with unexploded ordnance, prompting specialist teams to comb the waters to attempt to retrieve devices left behind by Russian attacks.
“The Russians ruined our peaceful environment,” Andriy Karpyna, who leads the national police department that oversees Ukraine’s waterways, told The Washington Post last week. “Normally you would see hundreds of boats with people enjoying the summer.”
The mines are also becoming a challenge for other nations, including Turkey and Romania, where naval forces from each country are grappling to defuse devices that are thought to be drifting across the Black Sea. Bulgarian officials have also warned people living near the coast to watch out for mines, according to local media reports.
Although it is unclear which side’s mine led to the death of the man in the Odessa region, Ukraine has also planted land mines on its beaches and seeded its ports with sea mines to prevent Russian forces from launching amphibious assaults from the Black Sea.
A suspected Russian mine washed up on a Ukrainian beach in the Odessa region following stormy weather last month. The Ukrainian military said it safely removed what it called an “enemy device.” Taking to Facebook, Operational Command South, a branch of the Ukrainian military, shared a video of the device being destroyed.
Illustrating the danger, officials at the time said the mine became unanchored from whatever was holding it in place and that it was carried to shore by crashing waves. Officials said the discovery served as a reminder of the dangers that beachgoers face as the conflict, which began when Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, rages. “Fortunately, the beach is patrolled regularly and there were no vacationers,” the military post said.
Concerns about mines are also growing at crucial trade ports and harbors that are key points for the transport of Ukrainian grain across the Black Sea. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, prices of natural gas, oil, fertilizer and food products are soaring around the world — also fueled by Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports and the ripple effects of Western sanctions on Moscow.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said last week that it would “take some time” to demine Ukraine’s ports but that a “safe sea corridor could be established in areas without mines under a U.N. proposal,” Reuters reported.
The Turkish government said it has spoken to Moscow and Kyiv about the devices, The Washington Post reported in March, after at least two mines appeared on the Turkish coast. Turkey did not specify which side, if either, was responsible for the drifting weapons.
Russia’s intelligence service said in March that bad weather had caused more than 400 naval mines it said were laid by Ukraine to become disconnected from the cables anchoring them. Russia said the devices were now “drifting freely” across the western part of the Black Sea, a key trade route. Ukraine dismissed Moscow’s claim, accusing Russia of using the alleged drifting weapons as an excuse to close off parts of the sea.
Max Bearak, Annabelle Chapman and Kareem Fahim contributed to this report.