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Bridge Collapses after Hit by Boat in S China
    2007-06-15 13:35:37     Xinhua

A bridge in Foshan, south China's Guangdong Province, collapsed after being hit by a sand-laden boat on Friday, June 15, 2007. [Photo: dayoo.com]

Related: Three Possible Vehicles Detected Underwater after Bridge Collapse

An initial investigation reveals a boat is fully responsible for a bridge collapse in south China's Guangdong Province.

According to a statement from Guangdong provincial government, the boat laden with sand navigated out of the main channel, is against traffic regulations, and hit the bridge at about 5:10 a.m. in Foshan City on Friday.

The boat was sailing under the bridge, which connects Jiujiang Township in Nanhai district of Foshan to neighboring Heshan City, when it hit a pier, and at least 150 meters of the bridge structure collapsed. The bridge is 1,600 meters long.

Rescuers are combing the river and the wreckage of a bridge in a search for any vehicles or people who were on the bridge at the time.

The collapsed bridge sections fell onto the bow of the boat, partially submerging it.

All the 10 crew members were rescued, and two injured crewmen have left hospital after being treated for bruises, an official with the local police said.

The boat has been seized by local police and all of its crew are under police surveillance.

The local maritime authority dispatched frogmen and 10 boats to help search for cars or trucks that may have fallen into the water.

"So far we don't know if any vehicles fell into the river, but as the accident occurred at an early hour, there should not have been too much traffic," he said.

He said the boat would not have hit the bridge if it followed navigation markers. The area had seen heavy rainfall in recent days and the higher, faster water may have contributed to the accident.

"I heard a loud noise and then I saw the cement structure of the bridge plunge into the river. It was foggy and I don't know if any vehicles fell into the water," said a local worker surnamed Liu.

"I heard three loud bangs and the lights on the bridge suddenly went out. It was like the bridge had been cut open by a giant knife," said another witness surnamed Yan.

Video footage from a nearby toll station shows about 130 vehicles crossing the bridge between 4:30 a.m. and 5:30 a.m..

Local traffic police are studying the footage and tracking down information on the vehicles to see if any of them is missing. The bridge has been sealed off and traffic is being diverted to a nearby highway. Other boats have been banned from navigating under the bridge.

Traffic police reminded boat owners to be cautious and closely follow navigation rules during flood season.

Li Shenglin, China's Communications Minister, said the ministry has dispatched a team of investigators, headed by Guangdong's deputy governor Tong Xing to Foshan.

Engineers will examine the condition of the bridge to ensure there are no more accidents.

The bridge, which is about 1,600 meters long and part of No. 325 Highway, was built in 1988 and runs over the Xijiang River, a major tributary of the Pearl River, sources with the Nanhai district government said.  

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