(Update 1: Adds death toll)
Moscow/Lviv, Ukraine, Oct 8 (EFE).- A large explosion ripped across a section of the only bridge connecting Russia with occupied Crimea, killing three people and causing part of the two-way road section to collapse as a train hauling tankers on the parallel railway line was also engulfed in flames.
Russia’s investigation committee, which said three were killed in the blast, has opened a probe to uncover the circumstances and “the people involved in the crime.”
The country’s national anti-terrorism committee claimed the explosion was caused by a truck bomb.
Russian news outlet BAZA shared CCTV footage apparently showing the moment of the blast, which took place at 6am local time when several vehicles, including trucks, were crossing the bridge.
Ukrainian authorities publicly celebrated the explosion on the Crimean Bridge, also known as the Kerch Bridge, although Kyiv has not claimed responsibility for the incident, which prompted a complete halt in traffic across the road and rail bridge, the longest in Europe, according to local media reports.
“Crimea, the bridge, the beginning. Everything illegal must be destroyed, everything stolen must be returned to Ukraine, everything occupied by Russia must be expelled,” Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, wrote on his Twitter.
Construction of the Crimean Bridge began in 2016, two years after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
Russian president Vladimir Putin inaugurated the 12-mile (19 kilometer) bridge upon its completion in 2018, touting it at the time as a “miracle.”
As well as offering an alternative to the ferry route across the Kerch Strait between mainland Russia and Crimea, the bridge became a symbol of the strength of Russia’s claim over the peninsula, which is not internationally recognized.
Russian authorities have previously warned that a military strike on the would not go unanswered.
The damage to the bridge could temporarily cut off direct road and rail supply chains between mainland Russia and Crimea.
Crimea is connected to Ukraine’s Kherson region, swathes of which are under Russian occupation.
Russian-controlled areas of southern and eastern Ukraine effectively provide Moscow with a land bridge extending to Crimea. EFE