22 dead as bridge in China collapses

China bridge death toll rises to 22 with dozens still missing

14th August 2007
Daily Mail

Hunan province

A road bridge on the verge of completion in China has collapsed, killing 22 people and injuring 22 in a possible indication of safety standards ridden rough-shod in the face of breakneck economic development.

At least 39 people were missing after the 320-metre (1,000-ft) bridge spanning the Tuo river in Fenghuang county, in the southeastern province of Hunan, collapsed last night during the evening rush hour, even as workers were stripping it of scaffolding, Xinhua news agency said today.

Dozens are still missing in this rubble as rescuers work frantically to find trapped commuters

Pictures on state-run China Central Television showed bulldozers and rescue workers picking through a massive pile of debris stretching between two hills at the banks of the river, which flows through a scenic area popular with tourists in western Hunan.

Some 400 police had been sent to the scene to keep order and more than 1,000 rescue workers were searching for the missing, Xinhua said.

"I saw a lot of bodies lying on the road, some of them were construction workers, and some were passers-by ... blood was everywhere," witness Yang Shunzhong told Reuters.

The nightmare of the collapse raises the fear of quality being sacrificed for quantity in China

The concrete bridge collapsed even as workers were constructing scaffolding on it

"A car was crushed flat under the bridge, it was so ruined that I could not even tell (its) size."

Workplace accidents sites are rife in booming China, where patchy safety enforcement and corner-cutting by contractors result in the deaths of thousands in the country's coal mines, factories and building sites every year.

The collapse came as state media reported that China would fix more than 6,000 damaged or dangerous bridges across the country. A bridge collapse in June in southern Guangdong province killed nine people.

CCTV reported the death toll at 22, but Yang said police had told him they had found 60 bodies and that "people on the scene" said the toll could rise much higher.

"A lot of women and children were ... crying and looking for their families or friends," he added.

Xinhua quoted an unnamed worker and witness at a nearby tourist site. "I heard the sounds of the crash and before I could realise what was happening, I saw the bridge fall slowly and become a pile of rocks," he was quoted as saying.

Tian Jing, a 29-year-old construction worker on the bridge, said three men from his home village were buried in the debris.

Rescuers carry one body from the rubble. Up to 70 could be dead in the collapse

At least 123 workers were at the site of the arched concrete bridge, which was to have been completed this month, Xinhua said. "Fifty-six or more" workers were on the 42-metre-high (138-foot) bridge itself when it collapsed, the State Administration of Work Safety said on its Web site.

The collapse had cut off a highway linking Fenghuang county to an airport in neighbouring Guizhou province's Tongren region, a notice posted on the local government Web site said.

Shocked and crying women watch the rescue attempts

Police had detained a construction manager and a "project supervisor" for questioning, Xinhua said, but the cause of the accident was still under investigation.

An editorial in the official China Daily today warned that thousands of the country's bridges were unsafe.

"If left unrepaired these bridges may crumble at any time, wreaking economic havoc and possibly claiming human lives," it said.

The bridge disaster occurred days after the death toll from the Interstate 35W bridge's August 1 collapse into the Mississippi River in Minneapolis was raised to nine.

China Quality...
So it's not just their exports that have abysmal craftsmanship.
That's the bridge to the Wal-Mart factory.
Those tankers carrying all the lead used in the Children's Toys takes a toll on bridges made of tin foil and mud I suppose.

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