A massive explosion on Oct. 8 involving a truck on a bridge that links Russia and Crimea killed at least three people and caused a fire that destroyed a section of the bridge, Russian authorities said.
The span is regarded as a key supply route for Russian troops in southern Ukraine.
The Crimean Bridge—also called Kerch Strait Bridge or Kerch Bridge—is a 19-kilometer (12-mile) structure that traverses the Kerch Strait and links southern Russia to the Crimean Peninsula. The Kerch Strait links the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee said that the explosion triggered a fire on the parallel rail section, where seven railway cars carrying fuel caught fire. The blast also caused a “partial collapse of two sections of the bridge.”
At least three people, “presumably the passengers of a car that was driving by the truck that exploded on the bridge,” were killed, the Russian Investigative Committee said in a statement.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was informed about the explosion; he ordered the creation of a government panel to deal with the emergency.
The Crimean Peninsula is key to sustaining Russia’s military operations in the south. If the bridge is made inoperable, it would make it significantly more challenging to ferry supplies to the peninsula. While Russia seized the areas north of Crimea early during the invasion and built a land corridor to it along the Sea of Azov, Ukraine is pressing a counteroffensive to reclaim them.
Bridge Explosion ‘The Beginning’: Ukraine OfficialMeanwhile, Mikhail Podoliak, an aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, posted on Twitter that the explosion is “the beginning.”
The Crimean Bridge, a $3.69 billion project, was built following the annexation of Crimea. Russia opened the first part of the span to car traffic in May 2018. The parallel bridge for rail traffic opened the following year. Before the bridge’s existence, the Crimean Peninsula could only be reached from Russia by sea or air.
It was Russia’s only land link to the peninsula until Russian forces seized more Ukrainian territory on the northern end of the Sea of Azov in heavy fighting, particularly around the city of Mariupol, in 2022.