Russian officials said three people had been killed as a result of the blast, which happened after a tanker truck caught fire on one of the sections of the road-and-rail bridge over the Kerch Strait, according to Russia’s RIA state news agency.
The Russian National Anti-Terrorism Committee said seven fuel tanker cars erupted in flames on a train
heading for the peninsula after the truck blew up on the bridge's roadway at 6:07 a.m. local time, the Reuters news agency reported.
It was not immediately clear if the incident was a deliberate attack, Poland's PAP news agency reported.
Moscow did not immediately assign blame for the explosion, and Ukrainian authorities did not directly claim responsibility, it said.
Ukrainian media outlets noted that the bridge, a hated symbol of Moscow’s annexation of the peninsula, was damaged a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin's 70th birthday.
Ukrainian state news agency Ukrinform reported that traffic on the bridge was suspended after a section of the road partially collapsed.
The head of Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council, Oleksiy Danilov, posted a video of the burning bridge on social media alongside a video of Marilyn Monroe singing "Happy birthday, Mr. President."
Images and videos shared by various users on social networking sites showed one half of the roadway blown away and plumes of thick smoke billowing from the bridge.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter: "Crimea, the bridge, the beginning. Everything illegal must be destroyed, everything stolen must be returned to Ukraine, everything occupied by Russia must be expelled."
The Ukrainian defence ministry tweeted: "The guided missile cruiser Moskva and the Kerch Bridge – two notorious symbols of russian power in Ukrainian Crimea – have gone down. What’s next in line, russkies?"
The strategic bridge over the Kerch Strait is an important supply route for Russian forces in Crimea and in southern Russian-occupied Ukraine, Polish news media reported.
Russia annexed the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, and the 19-kilometre road-and-rail bridge was opened with great fanfare by President Vladimir Putin four years later, according to Reuters.
Moscow on February 24 launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine by land, air and sea, the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War II.
Saturday was day 227 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Source: IAR, PAP, Reuters, ukrinform.net