The Kerch bridge, one of the main connecting routes between Russia and Crimea, has been seriously damaged early Saturday morning as a result of a huge explosion first attributed to the explosion of a truck that immediately afterwards caused the chain detonation of at least seven fuel tanks transported by rail, according to Russian authorities, with no casualties reported for the time being.
The bridge, also known simply as the Crimean Bridge, is considered an important logistical supply route for Russian forces in Crimea and southern Russian-occupied Ukraine. The 19-kilometer-long structure comprises a rail transport track and a highway. Inaugurated by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2018, it is one of the most important infrastructure works on the peninsula since its incorporation into Russia in 2014.
According to the head of the Crimean government Sergei Aksionov, two sections of the highway have collapsed after the explosion. Due to the damage, all car and truck traffic has been suspended and a ferry service has been set up to transport the population across the Kerch Strait, where shipping lanes remain operational for the time being.
Very clear view of the vehicle portion of the bridge that collapsed and the railway portion on fire. pic.twitter.com/fYsLJuHRcE
– Rob Lee (@RALee85) October 8, 2022
Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Commission has attributed the start of the chain of explosions to the explosion of a truck that “caused the chain ignition of seven fuel tanks on a train moving in the direction of the Crimean peninsula,” according to a statement carried by the TASS agency.
For its part, the press service of the Crimean Railway has pointed out that the fuel tanks were being transported by train in the direction of Crimea and occupied one of the last freight cars of the railroad. The chain of detonations, the Russian Anti-Terrorist Committee and the railroad service agree, occurred at around 06.05 local time.
“The locomotive and part of the carriages have been moved to Kerch station. Right now emergency work is being carried out and the causes of the incident are being established,” the statement said, picked up by TASS.
Putin has ordered an immediate investigation into what happened and has instructed Emergencies Minister Alexander Kurenkov and Transport Minister Vitali Saveliev to move immediately to the Kerch Strait to assess firsthand what happened.
An initial assessment by the All-Russian Union of Insurers (VSS) estimates that the explosion has caused material damage worth about 500 million rubles (about 8.5 million euros).
Video of the fire on the railroad portion of the Crimean Bridge. https://t.co/N8tzlrtv0j pic.twitter.com/CwroM2ScUf
– Rob Lee (@RALee85) October 8, 2022
RUSSIA POINTS FINGERS AT UKRAINE FOR THIS “TERRORIST ATTACK”.
Although from the Crimean Head of Government they have not yet pointed out the exact reasons for the incident, the president of the Crimean State Council, Vladimir Konstantinov, has already accused Ukraine for what happened.
“Ukrainian hooligans have come with their bloodstained hands to the Crimean bridge. Now they have something to be proud of: for 23 years of their management they have not managed to build anything worthy of attention in Crimea, but they managed to damage the Russian bridge. This is the whole essence of the Kiev regime. Death and destruction is all they get,” he wrote on his Telegram account.
Also Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has denounced the incident as a deliberate attack by Ukraine. “Ukraine’s reaction to the emergency on the Crimean bridge testifies to the terrorist nature of the Kiev regime,” Zakharova has let it be known on her Telegram account.
Zakharova was referring to comments such as the one made by Ukrainian presidential aide Mikhail Podoliak, who, without explicitly taking responsibility for what happened, has posted a cryptic tweet with the words “Crimea, the bridge, the beginning,” accompanied by an image of the collapsed and submerged sections of the highway after the explosion.
“Everything illegal must be destroyed, everything stolen must be returned to Ukraine, everything occupied by Russia must be expelled,” the presidential aide added. The Ukrainian Air Force has also posted a message on social networks in which it merely applauded the partial destruction of the bridge.
Other Ukrainian officials have also taken the opportunity to boast about the coincidence of the explosion with the 70th birthday of Russian President Vladimir Putin, such as the secretary of the National Defense and Security Council of Ukraine, Oleksiy Danilov, who posted on his Twitter account a video of the burning bridge accompanied by the iconic video in which the American singer and actress Marilyn Monroe sings “Happy Birthday” to the country’s president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, in 1962.