Bulk carrier hits mine in Black Sea, two people injured, Ukraine says

(Reuters) -A Panama-flagged bulk carrier that was headed to a River Danube port to load grain hit a Russian mine in the Black Sea on Wednesday, injuring two crew members, Ukrainian officials said on Thursday.

It was the latest incident of a civilian vessel hitting an explosive in the Black Sea in what Kyiv says is stepped-up Russian attacks on shipping and port infrastructure.

“A Panama-flagged civilian vessel was blown up on an enemy sea mine in the Black Sea…The vessel lost its course and control, and a fire broke out on the upper deck,” Ukraine’s southern military command said on Telegram.

A captain and a sailor, an Egyptian citizen, were injured, with the latter hospitalized in the city of Izmail, the head of the Odesa regional prosecutor’s office said at a briefing.

He added that the incident happened early on Wednesday at a river mouth.

Moscow has increased attacks on Ukraine’s port infrastructure since mid-July, when it quit a U.N.-brokered deal that allowed safe passage of Ukrainian grain shipments via the Black Sea.

Kyiv since has established an alternative route, which hugs the western shores of the Black Sea. It said Russian forces have been repeatedly dropping explosive devices in its vicinity.

(Reporting by Yuliia Dysa, Editing by William Maclean, Angus MacSwan and Christina Fincher)