Earlier Saturday, a fuel tank exploded on Europe’s longest bridge, which connects Russia to the annexed territory of Crimea, according to footage from Russian state media RIA and social media.
Pictures of the Kerch Bridge posted on social media appear to show vehicles and parts of the railway bridge’s roadway falling into the water below it. Flames can be seen burning from the railcar above.
The tanker sits on a 19-kilometer (11-mile) bridge – strategically important as it links Russia’s Krasnodar region with Russia’s annexed Crimean peninsula.
The bridge spans the Kerch Strait connecting the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
The source of the explosion remains unclear.
In an interview in August, a senior Ukrainian military commander said the Kerch Bridge was a legitimate target.
“This is a necessary measure to deprive them (Russia) of the opportunity to provide reserves and reinforcements from Russian soil,” the major said. General Dmytro Marchenko said in an interview with RBC-Ukraine.
An adviser to Oleg Kryunchkov, the head of the Russian government in occupied Crimea, said in a telegram that “fire fighting is in progress”, adding that the bridge’s “transportation arch” not damaged”.
State news agency RIA Novosti reported when it opened to traffic in 2018 that the Kerch Bridge was capable of handling 40,000 vehicles a day, carrying 14 million passengers and 13 million tons of cargo annually.
After the bridge opened, the United States condemned its construction as illegal.
“Russia’s construction of this bridge is a reminder of Russia’s ongoing willingness to flout international law,” a State Department statement said.
“The bridge not only represents Russia’s attempt to consolidate its illegal occupation and occupation of Crimea, but it also impedes navigation by limiting the size of ships that can pass through the Kerch Strait, the only way to access Ukrainian territorial waters. Azov.”
This is a developing story. More attention.