Fatal Bridge Collapse Prompts Public Uproar
   2012-08-25 00:13:59    Xinhua      Web Editor: haipeng

Related: Bridge Collapses in NE China, Three Killed

Friday's collapse of a costly bridge in northeast China's Heilongjiang province and the subsequent loss of three lives have led residents and netizens alike to complain about shoddy construction and inadequate supervision by the government.

A ramp on the multi-million-dollar bridge in the city of Harbin collapsed early Friday morning, causing four trucks to plunge 30 meters to the ground, killing three people and injuring five.

The ramp, located about 3.5 km from the main body of the Yangmingtan Bridge, tilted to one side and crashed to the ground at 5:30 a.m., said Sun Qingde, deputy head of the construction committee of Harbin.

The injured were sent to the Harbin No. 1 People's Hospital. Three of the cases were serious and required surgery.

Liu Guodong, who survived with minor injuries, said he was dozing off in his truck when it suddenly plunged to the ground below.

"It was a nightmare," he said.

All four trucks overturned after crashing onto the ground. Blood and broken glass covered the area around the trucks.

The collapse of the bridge, which cost 1.88 billion yuan (296 million U.S. dollars) and opened to traffic in November 2011, instantly caused a public outcry over the safety of public facilities and inadequate management and supervision by government agencies.

Huang Yusheng, secretary-general of the Harbin municipal government, said the cause of the collapse is still under investigation.

"It's very complicated and we cannot reach a conclusion immediately," he said.

Huang, however, suggested that the overloading of some vehicles could be one of the possible causes for the accident.

His remark triggered a flurry of fiery and sarcastic remarks by Internet users, with one netizen using the screenname "douhanzhang" collecting some of the more notable quotes and posting them on Sina Weibo, a popular microblogging site.

"It's not because of overloading. You should blame the Earth for its gravity instead," read one quote.

"How could the trucks have been overloaded? Obviously the drivers were overweight," read another quote.

"There must have been serious problems," said Huang Yi, spokesman for the State Administration of Work Safety, at a Friday press conference.

"A new bridge should not have collapsed in less than a year," Huang Yi said.

The municipal government of Harbin has set up an investigation team consisting of officials from the local work safety, transport and public security bureaus, who will question the truck's owners and cargo consignees to determine if overloading truly caused the accident.

Huang Yi promised to keep the public informed regarding the investigation's results.

Meanwhile, the municipal construction committee has invited experts to re-examine the bridge's design and construction.

Many of the city's residents have voiced suspicions regarding the quality of the bridge's construction. In September 2011, when the bridge was still being built, a beam fell off the bridge's main structure and injured five workers.

When the bridge opened to traffic on Nov. 6, 2011, officials with the construction committee declared that it had been completed within 18 months. The construction was originally planned to take three years.

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