The Kerch Bridge, connecting Russia and the Crimean Peninsula has been closed after an incident in which portions of the bridge were damaged, according to Russian officials. Those officials are not saying what caused the damage, but Russian Telegram channels say the bridge was attacked by Ukraine.
Editor's note: We have published a new piece on this attack with all the latest details you can find here.
If true, that would mark the second time since October that Vladimir Putin’s prized $4 billion span has been attacked. The bridge was previously struck in October.
Warning to readers, some of the video is very graphic:
“Traffic was stopped on the Crimean Bridge,” occupation governor Sergei Aksenov said on his Telegram channel. “An emergency occurred in the area of the 145th support from the Krasnodar Territory. Law enforcement agencies and all responsible services are working.”
“Measures are being taken to restore the situation,” Aksenov said.
“Given the current situation, I ask residents and guests of the peninsula to refrain from traveling through the Crimean bridge and, for security reasons, choose an alternative land route through new regions,” said Aksenov.
The Ministry of Transport “denied information about damage to the supports of the Crimean bridge,” the official Russian TASS news agency reported on its Telegram channel. ”There is damage to the roadbed on the spans from the Crimea, the ministry said.”
That ministry also reported that due to the closure of traffic on the Kerch Bridge, drivers can travel along the land road route in the “new regions” of Russia, the Russian Defense Ministry’s TV Zvezda reported, a reference to the seized territories annexed by Moscow that create a land bridge between Russia and Crimea. Ukraine is working to sever it as part of its ongoing counteroffensive.
In addition, Zvezda reported that one of its correspondents saw a train from Crimea to Moscow stopped in front of the bridge. Meanwhile, “railway transport employees told our correspondent that traffic is still limited only on the automobile part of the bridge, there were no such instructions for the railway.”
Popular Russian military-related Telegram channels are taking a much more blunt tone, although their claims cannot be confirmed at this time.
The bridge was struck twice by “the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” once at 3:04 a.m. and again at 3:20 a.m. according to the Grey Zone Telegram channel.
One span collapsed and another came off its support, Grey Zone reported, adding that two people were killed and a child was injured.
Grey Zone posted videos it said showed “at least one collapsed bridge span and an injured civilian vehicle with people inside.”
“Traffic is blocked at the moment,” Grey Zone reported. “The crossing also does not work. People are turned back. An air raid alert sounds. The head of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, announced an emergency.”
The Two Majors Telegram channel claimed that the attack was carried out by small, unmanned surface vessels.
“Preliminarily, the nature of the incident indicates the use by the enemy of small unmanned swimming facilities to undermine the pillars of the Crimean Bridge,” Two Majors reported.
Once again, none of these claims can be confirmed at this time, or if the bridge was even attacked or suffered some sort of catastrophic structural failure. It also isn't clear if the damage occurred at the same area that was recently repaired following the October attack.
At this point, the information is all preliminary. But one thing is certain, something occurred on the bridge that has drastically limited its use at this time.
We will update this story when more information is provided.
Update 1:13 a.m. EST:
The Russian Baza news agency published photos of the aftermath of the incident on its Telegram channel that seem to back up claims that a span of the bridge was destroyed.
“Photo[s] from the site of the explosion on the Crimean bridge,” Baza said. “As Baza previously reported, one span was destroyed, one more was damaged.”
The man and woman killed were the parents of the girl who was injured in “the emergency that happened on the Crimean Bridge,” Belgorod Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov said on his Telegram channel.
More images purporting to be from the scene were posted by the Grey Zone Telegram channel, but we could not independently confirm that.
In addition to traffic across the bridge being halted, ferry service between Crimea and Kuban [in Russia’s neighboring Krasnador Krai] has also been suspended, according to TV Zvezda.
The occupation Governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhaev, urged residents not to panic.
“I ask the people of Sevastopol to remain calm,” he said on his Telegram channel. “Given the current situation, I ask you to refrain from traveling through the Crimean Bridge and choose an alternative land route through new regions.”
“The stock of gasoline in Sevastopol is sufficient, there will be no shortage, so there is no need to stock up on fuel,” he added. “The situation is the same with products. As soon as it becomes clear how and when the message will be restored, you will receive all the information.”
Update: 2:14 a.m. EST—
Another view of some of the damage:
This is totally unconfirmed video, but it is making the rounds. It is said to show an aerial strike on the bridge, with anti-aircraft artillery trying to engage something before the blast. The sound of jet engine is also heard. Once again, we cannot confirm this was from the incident in question:
See our new post on the attack here.
Contact the author: firstname.lastname@example.org