Russia’s Crimean Bridge closed for first-ever time due to snow as regional head declares weather-related state of emergency

For the first time since its completion in 2018, Europe’s longest bridge has been closed due to a heavy snowfall. The Black Sea region is currently going through an uncharacteristic cold spell.

On Thursday night, Crimea saw a snowstorm cover the peninsula, prompting warnings from local authorities to refrain from travel. The bridge itself was shut due to “lack of visibility, heavy snowfall, and strong side winds.”

Construction of the Crimean Bridge started in 2016 and was completed two years later. The multibillion-dollar infrastructure project connects Taman in Krasnodar Region, on the Russian mainland, to Kerch in Crimea. As well as cars, the structure allows for trains to cross. At 19km, it is the longest bridge in Europe.

As of Friday afternoon, around 280 vehicles were stuck on the crossing, with many more in a traffic jam on either side of the Kerch Strait, which separates Crimea from the neighbouring Krasnodar Region. Although it was initially shut in both directions, the traffic police have opened travel towards mainland Russia but won’t allow cars to pass over to the Black Sea peninsula.

According to Taman, the local highway management agency, traffic will be restored after the evacuation of vehicles damaged by the snowfall.

READ MORE: With Crimean reservoirs running low, Ukraine vows to complete dam on canal which once provided almost 85% of the peninsula’s water

Southern Russia has seen uncharacteristically chilly temperatures in recent weeks. While Moscow is known for its cold winters, Crimea and other parts of the region are normally above zero in February. On Thursday, Kerch saw 27mm of snowfall overnight, almost reaching the month’s norm of 31mm in just one day. However, temperatures are expected to be positive next week.

On Friday afternoon, the peninsula’s authorities decided to declare a state of emergency in four areas.

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