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Everything we know about the Kerch bridge attack so far and why Russia has blamed Ukraine for Crimea explosion

Two people have been killed and one injured following explosions on the Kerch bridge that links Russia to Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, on Monday morning.

Russia blamed Ukraine for the attack, with Ukraine’s security service (SBU) later claiming responsibility, saying they used seaborne drones in the blast.

Here is what we know about the attack and why Russian officials believe Ukraine is behind it.

What happened to the Kerch bridge?

Before dawn on Monday, blasts were reported on the 19km (12-mile) road and rail bridge.

Unverified images showed a section of road on the bridge had split and was listing to one side with metal barriers buckled.

Dash cam footage also showed drivers braking sharply shortly after the incident.

Traffic has been stopped on the Russian-built bridge, Russia-installed officials said. Motorists have been advised to use an alternative route.

Russia’s transport ministry said the bridge remained on its supports.

How many casualties have been reported?

Two people, a woman and a man, were killed and their daughter, 14, was wounded and taken for treatment at a medical facility.

“The girl was injured,” Vyacheslav Gladkov, governor of the Belgorod region, said in a message on the Telegram messaging app. “The hardest thing is that her parents died, dad and mum.”

Russian media has since named the couple killed in the explosion by their first names – Alexei and Nataliya. An unidentified relative told Russian media channel RBK the family had been travelling with the 14-year-old girl’s aunt in two cars. They had decided to drive at night to avoid congestion on the roads.

“At about 3 o’clock in the morning, the family heard the first bang, after which the lights went out on the bridge,” the relative said. “After the second bang, there was no more contact.”

Angelina, the teenage daughter, sustained injuries to her head and chest but was conscious and breathing, according to the local emergency response unit.

Why has Russia blamed Ukraine for the Crimea explosion?

CRIMEA - OCTOBER 08: Explosion causes fire at the Kerch bridge in the Kerch Strait, Crimea on October 08, 2022. A fire broke out early Saturday morning on the Kerch Bridge -- preceded by an explosion -- causing suspension of traffic and bringing bus and train services to a halt. Three people were killed on Saturday in a "truck bombing" at a strategic bridge in Crimea, Russian investigators said. (Photo by Vera Katkova/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Images of the Kerch bridge attack in October 2022 captured flames burning in the aftermath of the explosion (Photo: Vera Katkova/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Russian officials said Ukraine was behind what they called a “terrorist” attack on the bridge.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, on Monday accused Ukraine of carrying out the attack, with assistance from Britain and the US.

Ms Zakharova did not provide evidence to support the assertions.

“Today’s attack on the Crimean bridge was carried out by the Kyiv regime. This regime is terrorist and has all the hallmarks of an international organised crime group,” she said.

“Decisions are made by Ukrainian officials and the military with the direct participation of American and British intelligence agencies and politicians. The US and Britain are in charge of a terrorist state structure.”

Grey Zone, a Russian Telegram channel with links to the Wagner mercenary group, claimed the bridge was likely hit by an underwater drone operated by Ukraine.

Russia previously blamed Ukraine for an attack on the bridge last October, saying it was organised by Ukrainian military intelligence and its director, Kyrylo Budanov. Ukraine only indirectly admitted to the attack months later.

How has Ukraine responded?

The Ukrainian military earlier suggested the attack which has occurred on the same day a UN-brokered deal that allows the export of grain via the Black Sea expired, could be some kind of provocation by Russia itself.

The grain deal had been extended several times but following the bridge attack Russia notified the UN, Ukraine and Turkey, which also brokered the agreement, that it would no longer be adhering to it.

Kyiv’s navy and the SBU later claimed responsibility for the explosions on Kerch bridge, claiming they used seaborne drones.

An SBU source told AFP that waterborne drones hit the bridge as part of “a special operation of the SBU and the navy”. “It was difficult to reach the bridge, but in the end it was possible to do it,” they said.

SBU spokesman, Artem Dekhtiarenko, told AFP: “We are watching with interest as one of the symbols of Putin’s regime once again failed to withstand the military load.”

Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for Ukraine’s military intelligence department, declined to comment on the specifics of the incident, but said: “The peninsula is used by the Russians as a large logistical hub for moving forces and assets deep into the territory of Ukraine. Of course, any logistical problems are additional complications for the occupiers.”

Additional reporting by Reuters

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