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DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Fireworks truck blast blamed for China bridge collapse
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Feb 2, 2013


At least eight dead in China expressway bridge collapse
Beijing (AFP) Feb 1, 2013 - A bridge on a major expressway in central China collapsed Friday, leaving the twisted remains of cars and trucks scattered among the rubble as state media reported at least eight fatalities.

There was confusion over the toll, with the official news agency Xinhua saying eight people were dead and 13 injured after a fireworks-laden truck exploded, sending a long section of the viaduct crashing to the ground.

State-run China National Radio initially said that 26 people had been killed, but the report could not later be found on its website, after local authorities in Henan province called the figure "inexplicable".

State broadcaster CCTV quoted nearby residents as saying they heard a loud booming noise, although it added the cause of the collapse was unclear and it was not known if the truck exploded before or after the bridge collapsed.

Pictures showed tangled wreckage beneath the bridge, including three upturned trucks with their wheels pointing skywards, as rescue workers in orange uniforms scaled the wreckage.

At least five cars could also be seen. CCTV said on its website that at least 25 vehicles were involved.

A crowd of people peered at the debris through thick hazy fog as another lorry teetered on the mangled edge of the bridge's collapsed section.

A new bridge appeared to be under construction right next to the collapsed section.

The bridge near the city of Sanmenxia is on the G30 expressway, the longest road in China, which stretches for nearly 4,400 kilometres (2,700 miles) from China's western border with Kazakhstan to the eastern Yellow Sea.

It stands 30 metres (yards) above the ground, media reported.

Many of China's roads are packed as the country gears up for its most important holiday, the Lunar New Year, when hundreds of millions of people travel back to their hometowns in what is billed as the world's largest annual human migration.

The season is also a peak period for fireworks producers, as Chinese traditionally buy the explosives to celebrate the festival, which falls on February 10 this year.

According to police statistics, around 70,000 people die and 300,000 more are injured in road accidents every year in China, state media have reported.

China has seen a number of bridge collapses in recent years, which are often blamed on overloading and shoddy construction. One such incident in northeast China last August killed three people.

The collapse of a bridge on an expressway in central China was likely caused by an explosion on a lorry carrying fireworks, a local official said Saturday as state media said the death toll rose to 11.

The accident on Friday sent an 80-metre (yard) stretch of viaduct crashing to the ground and left the twisted remains of cars and lorries scattered among the rubble, once again raising questions over the safety of China's infrastructure.

State television network CCTV said 11 people had been killed in the accident and four arrested because the lorry was not permitted to carry explosives.

An official with the Sanmenxia municipality's public security bureau named Zhang said rescuers using equipment to search for any more survivors had not detected any signs of life, warning that the toll could rise further.

"There are still vehicles buried in the rubble and we'll need heavy lifting equipment to get them out," he told AFP.

The municipality's deputy propaganda chief Ren Zhanzhou added that initial investigations suggested the lorry carrying firecrackers and fireworks ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays was the likely cause of the disaster.

Drivers interviewed by CCTV said they saw an explosion before the bridge collapsed, but on popular Internet forums, people were sceptical.

"Firecrackers and fireworks are not enough to destroy a bridge," one user identified as Xinghuhuhu wrote on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

"Have some respect for the dead, please! If a poor quality bridge is destroyed by firecrackers going off, it's not a question of a loss of face, some officials have to be fired," they added.

"There are times when you have to take responsibility."

State-run China National Radio initially said Friday that 26 people had been killed, but the report could not later be found on its website, after local authorities in Henan province called the figure "inexplicable".

Pictures of the accident showed tangled wreckage beneath the bridge, including three upturned lorries with their wheels pointing skywards, as rescue workers in orange uniforms scaled the wreckage.

A crowd of people peered at the debris through thick hazy fog as another lorry teetered on the mangled edge of the bridge's collapsed section.

A new bridge appeared to be under construction right next to the collapsed section.

The bridge near the city of Sanmenxia is on the G30 expressway, the longest road in China, which stretches for nearly 4,400 kilometres (2,700 miles) from China's western border with Kazakhstan to the eastern Yellow Sea.

It stands 30 metres above the ground, media reported.

Many of China's roads are packed as the country gears up for its most important holiday, the Lunar New Year, when hundreds of millions return to their hometowns in what is billed as the world's largest annual human migration.

The season is also a peak period for fireworks producers, as Chinese traditionally buy the explosives to celebrate the festival, which falls on February 10 this year.

According to police statistics, around 70,000 people die and 300,000 more are injured in road accidents every year in China, state media have reported.

China has seen a number of bridge collapses in recent years, which are often blamed on overloading and shoddy construction. One such incident in northeast China last August killed three people.

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DISASTER MANAGEMENT
26 dead as China bridge collapses: media
Beijing (AFP) Feb 1, 2013
A fireworks-laden truck exploded as it crossed a bridge in central China on Friday, killing 26 people as the structure collapsed and vehicles plummeted to the ground, state-run media reported. The lorry "suddenly exploded" on the expressway bridge in Henan province, China National Radio said, putting the number of deaths at 26. An 80-metre long part of the bridge collapsed and six vehicl ... read more


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