Locals in a remote part of Russia were shocked when they saw a huge stretch of a rail bride mysteriously disappear. A criminal case has been launched in the country’s Arctic region of Murmansk after suspected metal thieves made off with the portion of the bridge.
Aerial photos of the bridges went viral on Russian social media sites, causing a stir and later initiating an investigation into the unusual heist of 56 tonnes of metal and 23-metre rail bridge over the Umba river.
Photos dated May 16 circulating on Russian social network VKontakte showed that the central span of the bridge had fallen into the river. However, in photos taken just ten days later, there was no trace of the section or of any debris.
“Natural phenomena could not bring down the bridge,” wrote the VK page that initially posted the pictures, according to the Moscow Times. “Metalworkers likely pulled the structure into the water, where they slowly took it apart for scrap parts.”
According to local daily Znak, the preliminary material damage amounted to 600 thousand rubles.
Residents immediately speculated that the bridge had been stolen and submitted a statement to Kirovsk police. However, they did not believe it initially and thought the owners themselves may have dismantled the bridge. Later, the prosecutor’s office of the city of Kirovsk recognised as legitimate and reasonable the decision to investigate the matter. “According to investigators in May 2019, an unidentified person secretly stole metal constructions of length out of mercenary motives,” the official website stated.
However, according to local dailies, this is not the first metal heist in a large amount. In fact, in 2008 Russian police hunted scrap metal thieves who stole an even larger 200-tonne metal bridge in a night-time raid.