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Russian bridge to Crimea partially destroyed by explosion

Russian bridge to Crimea partially destroyed by explosion

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KYIV — The Kerch bridge in Crimea, crucial for Russian military operations in southern Ukraine, was partially destroyed by an explosion Saturday morning. 

Two spans of the road portion of the bridge collapsed as a result of “an accident,” according to Sergei Aksyonov, the Russia-installed head of the Crimea administration.

“Fuel tanks have also caught fire,” Aksyonov said in a post on social media, without elaborating on the nature of the accident. 

Russia’s National Anti-Terrorist Committee said that a truck was blown up on the bridge, according to Russian media. As a result of the explosion, “a partial collapse” of two spans occurred, it said. 

“As soon as the fire is extinguished, it will be possible to assess damage to the bridge and pillars, and it will be possible to talk about the timing of the restoration of traffic,” Aksyonov said. 

According to videos and photos published Saturday morning by eyewitnesses, several fuel tanks were on fire on the rail part of the bridge, while at least one road span had partially collapsed into the waters of the Kerch Strait, which connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. 

The Kerch bridge, which connects Crimea with Russian territory, was opened with much fanfare personally by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2018, after Moscow seized the peninsula from Ukraine in 2014. The construction of the bridge was slammed by both Kyiv and its Western backers as illegal at the time. 

Since the start of the Kremlin’s war on Ukraine in late February, the bridge has been crucially important for the transfer of manpower, weapons and fuel to Russian units fighting Ukrainian troops in southern Ukraine. 

According to Aksyonov, ferry service will start operating on Saturday in place of the damaged bridge.

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