A man in Russia's second city of Saint Petersburg climbed one of its lifting bridges before evading police by plunging into the water, in a death-defying stunt that stopped traffic, officials said Monday.

Police in the city said they have launched a probe as photos of the unidentified daredevil, holding a red flare and hanging from the top of the bridge as it swung upwards, went viral on the internet.

The man, photographed from the ground, apparently sneaked behind the fence of the picturesque Troitsky (Trinity) bridge in central Saint Petersburg just before it was scheduled to open, and clung on to the railing on the edge. In the pictures posted on Facebook by photographer Nikolai Gontar, the person holds on to the railing with only one hand and waves a red flare in the other as the bridge is nearly vertical.AFP