52 dead, 97 hospitalized in bridge collapse in Vietnam
www.chinaview.cn 2007-09-26 21:31:59   Print

    CAN THO CITY, Vietnam, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- At least 52 people died, and 97 others have been hospitalized in Vietnam's most serious bridge accident, according to local officials from the southern province Vinh Long and neighbor Can Tho city on Wednesday evening.

    A 90-m section of an approach ramp, which is over 30 meters above the ground and leading to the Can Tho bridge, the longest and most modern one in the country's southern Mekong Delta under construction, collapsed in Binh Minh district, Vinh Long province at 8:30 Wednesday morning, when some 250 workers of the contractor TNK comprising three Japanese firms were working at the construction site.

    When the accident happened, over 120 workers working on the ramp fell down at the bank of the Hau River, and some 100 other workers were working under the ramp. At 9:00 a.m., a gas cylinder at the construction site exploded, killing and injuring several people. A total of 174 people have been injured, according to statistics from hospitals in the two localities.

    By Wednesday evening, local hospitals were treating 97 injured people, including 17 severely injured ones. "Four injured people are likely to die," said Le Hung Dung, director of the Can Tho Health Department.

    Major hospitals in the localities, which have been overloaded with the victims, will work overnight to receive and treat injured people. Many local people have donated sufficient amount of blood for the treatment.

    According to initial investigation, the section, completed just two or three days ago, collapsed after a scaffold system supporting the section fell. According to a local construction engineer, the collapse could have been caused by the fact that rain over the past few days has affected the foundation.

    The rescue work is still underway, but it makes little progress due to difficult access to the ruins full of concrete and steel. Despite of having five cranes, rescuing forces, including 400 army staff, have to use small drills to cut reinforced concrete blocks to search for the missing people. Canoes on the river and ambulances at the river's bank are ready to transport any injured people found.

    Top leaders of the Vietnamese government and the Communist Party of Vietnam asked the Transport Ministry to coordinate with the authorities of Vinh Long and Can Tho for rapid treatment of victims, the search for missing people trapped in the concrete ruins, dealing with the aftermath and the resume of the construction work, according to Vietnam News Agency.

    The Vietnamese Health Ministry has established a working team headed by a deputy minister to mobilize all resources to treat injured people, minimizing the fatalities. The ministry has also proposed the National Committee for Rescue and Salvage join hands in offering timely first-aid services, and solving the aftermath.

    The construction of approach ramps and the cable-braced bridge's main span over the Hau River, linking Can Tho and Vinh Long, began in September 2004 with investment of over 4.8 trillion Vietnamese dong (302 million U.S. dollars) from official development assistance of Japan and the Vietnamese government's reciprocal capital. It is scheduled to be complete in late 2008.

    The six-lane bridge will be 2.7 km long, including the 550-meter main span and approach ramps, and 24.9-meter wide. Approach roads measuring over 12.6 km will bring the bridge's total length to 15.4 km.

Editor: Wang Hongjiang
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