Traffic on Crimea key bridge halted amid reports of explosions

AP , Monday 17 Jul 2023

Traffic on the key bridge connecting Crimea to Russia’s mainland has been halted amid reports of explosions.

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FILE - A helicopter drops water to stop fire on Crimean Bridge connecting Russian mainland and Crimean peninsula over the Kerch Strait, in Kerch, on Oct. 8, 2022. AP

 

The health ministry in Russia's Krasnodar region, which lies at the eastern end of the bridge, said two people were killed in an unspecified accident on the bridge and their daughter was injured.

The governor of Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014, announced the closure of the bridge early Monday but did not specify the reason.

News reports said local residents heard explosions before dawn, but there was no confirmation.

The extent of the damage was not immediately clear, but Governor Sergei Aksyonov said he expected rail traffic on the bridge to resume within several hours. The Telegram channel Baza, which has ties to Russia's security services, posted photos showing one lane on the bridge's roadway torn up and a black car with its front end appearing to be shattered.

The bridge, which spans the Kerch Strait, was damaged in October by a truck bomb and required months of repairs before resuming full service. The bridge carries both road and rail traffic and is an important supply artery for Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The 19-kilometer (12-mile) bridge opened in 2018 and is the main land connection between Russia and the Crimean peninsula.

Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for Ukraine’s military intelligence department, declined to comment Monday on the incident but said: “The peninsula is used by the Russians as a large logistical hub for moving forces and assets deep into the territory of Ukraine. Of course, any logistical problems are additional complications for the occupiers.”

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