On October 8, a truck was blown up on the Crimean bridge or the Kerch bridge, which led to a fire on the fuel tanks of a train. A gasoline tank at the rear of the freight train caught fire, according to local police and Crimean Railways officials. The incident happened around 6 AM Moscow time. As per TASS, the fire onboard the train transporting diesel fuel has been extinguished, and the rescuers have detected no open flames. The locomotive with part of the damaged train was taken to the Kerch station.
The Crimean bridge was temporarily blocked to vehicular traffic by Russian authorities, and cars had been routed to designated places with food and heating amenities. According to news agencies, Russian president Vladimir Putin has already ordered the establishment of a government commission to address the bridge issue in Crimea. It will comprise the leaders of Krasnodar Territory and Crimea, as well as the National Guard, FSB, and Ministry of Internal Affairs officials. The Supreme Court has also initiated an investigation into the incident.
Multiple photographs and videos of the Crimean bridge in flames are spreading on social media. Supposedly, one video captured the moment of the explosion. A portion of the road is damaged. Authorities in Crimea have not reported any fatalities. Oleg Kryuchkov, the advisor to the head of the Republic of Crimea, confirmed that all emergency services are already on the site. He also said that a land transit route connecting Crimea to other areas of Russia had been built, passing via “new provinces” in reference to the Donetsk Republic. The head of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, also said that the Crimean ferry service would begin operating today.
While the Crimean “authorities” accused “Ukrainian vandals” of the fire, the National Anti-Terrorism Committee of the Russian Federation reported that a vehicle was blown up on the Crimean bridge. Two automotive spans of the Crimean bridge partially collapsed, while the arch above the navigable portion of the bridge remained unharmed, reported RIA Novosti. According to visual assessment, one automobile thread from Kerch to Taman is intact.
Traffic on the automobile and railway parts of the Crimean bridge is now limited. Parking areas were established for motorists near the settlement of Ilyich and the Taman-Volna fork. The Krasnodar Territory is prepared to open seven more parking lots if required. According to the officials, there are no lines in front of the bridge from the Crimean side.
Navigation in the Kerch Strait was not blocked due to the incident. The first ferry from the Crimean Peninsula has started loading, while three more are prepared to depart. The maritime services of the Krasnodar Territory informed TASS that at least four or five vessels would be utilised to coordinate connection with the Crimean peninsula, and “a few more from Sevastopol” may also arrive.
The Crimean authorities have said that the peninsula is supplied with gasoline and food, and emergency and logistical plans have been developed. In Crimea, stocks of vital supplies are available for over two months, but the sale of consumables is restricted to prevent hysteria. The governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhaev, also said that the city has a sufficient supply of food and fuel and that there is no shortage. The bridge would be restored as soon as possible, said the Crimean authorities.
Ukraine Behind the attack?
According to Ukrainian media, the driver whose vehicle detonated on the Crimean bridge may have been a “suicide bomber” or may not have understood what he was taking over the border.
“Most likely, the driver died. And in this case, he was either a suicide bomber (consciously went to his death in order to complete the task of blowing up the bridge), or he was used “blindly”, and he did not know about the explosive that was in the back. It could blow it up remotely,” writes Strana.ua.
In addition, the authors speculate that the driver may have leapt out of the truck, although this is improbable given that the “flight” would have been captured on surveillance footage.
The Ukrainian Security Service is responsible for destroying the Crimean bridge, according to Ukrayinska Pravda, citing a law enforcement source. But the special service has not yet issued an official statement on its involvement in these activities.
The Crimean Bridge
The Crimean Bridge is the longest in Russia, at 19 kilometres in length. The automobile element was ordered in May 2018. And in December 2019, the first trains began travelling over its railway section. The bridge was the only surface connection to Crimea until Russia annexed Donetsk and Luhansk this year.