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Two people have reportedly died following an "emergency incident" declared by officials as a major bridge linking Russia with Crimea is closed following reports of an explosion.
Officials have warned people to avoid using the Kerch bridge, with unconfirmed reports saying residents heard explosions on Monday (July 17) morning.
According to reports, a 14-year-old girl, was injured in the bridge strike, reported Baza media outlet.
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She was a tourist from Stary Oskol in the Belgorod region and was taken to a hospital in the Krasnodar region.
She suffered body wounds, a broken nose and a concussion, reported Baza. Her parents died in the incident, said reports which had not been officially confirmed.
Russia’s Ministry of Transport has confirmed that there is damage to the road on the Crimean side of the bridge, Tass is reporting.
“The ministry stressed that the inspection of the bridge’s condition is ongoing,” Tass wrote on its Telegram channel.
“Law enforcement agencies and relevant services are at work. I spoke to the Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation, Vitaly Savelyev, and measures are being taken to ameliorate the situation,” said Sergey Aksenov, the Russia-appointed head of Crimea.
Last October, a huge blast partially damaged the bridge, causing parts of it to collapse.
The bridge – which is an important supply route – fully reopened in February.
“Traffic was stopped on the Crimean Bridge. An emergency occurred in the area of the 145th support from the [Russia side of the bridge],” Sergey Aksyonov, the head of the Russian administration in Crimea, wrote on Telegram.
“Law enforcement agencies and all responsible services are working. Measures are being taken to restore the situation.
“Given the current situation, I ask residents and guests of the peninsula to refrain from travelling through the Crimean bridge and, for security reasons, choose an alternative land route through new regions.”
Crimean tourists are being told to stay in hotels. Checkpoints in Armyansk, Dzhankoy and Perekop, which connect Crimea with the Russian-occupied Kherson region, are operating as usual, Tass said, citing Oleg Kryuchkov, an advisor to Crimea’s governor.
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