Fri, Sep 28, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Vietnam bridge collapse kills 43

DEADLY DROP The Japanese-financed bridge will cross the Hau River linking Vinh Long Province and Can Tho, a crossing thousands make each day by ferry


Workers searched for bodies yesterday after a section of a massive bridge under construction in southern Vietnam collapsed, killing at least 43 people and injuring 87 others.

Nguyen Van Cong, spokesman for Vietnam's transportation ministry, said six bodies were discovered yesterday morning and six people were still missing. All the victims were Vietnamese construction workers.

Hospital officials said the death toll was likely to rise as many of the victims had serious injuries.

In one ward at Can Tho's Military Hospital, three of the 11 patients were in critical condition and several had serious brain injuries.

"We have three patients on respirators and it's very unlikely that they will survive," said Tran Ngoc Vu, a doctor at the hospital.

The only patient in the ward well enough to speak was Nguyen Quoc Trung, 31, who was working on the section of the bridge that collapsed.

"We were working normally and all of a sudden we were flying down," Trung said.

He landed semi-conscious, with his chest stuck between concrete and twisted metal.

"I didn't know if I was in the jungle or the middle of the air," Trung said. "I didn't know where I was."

After two hours, rescue workers pulled him from the wreckage. Two of his friends, who had been working next to him, died in the accident, Trung said.

The cause of the collapse is under investigation.

The Japanese-financed bridge will cross the Hau River, a branch of the Mekong River, linking Vinh Long Province and Can Tho, the largest city in the Mekong Delta. Thousands of people currently make the crossing each day by ferry.

The 100m section of the bridge that collapsed was above a small island on the Vinh Long side of the bridge, just beyond the ramp that connects the span to land.

Large chunks of concrete and mangled steel dangled from the three pylons that held up the buckled span and three cranes moved about the area, hoisting large chunks of debris.

A stretcher lay on the ground and rescue workers and family members crowded the area.

Emergency workers assisted one elderly woman who had collapsed on the ground, apparently overcome by stress.

The 2.75km bridge is one of the largest construction projects in Vietnam. The construction work is being done by a consortium of three Japanese firms -- Taisei Corp, Kajima Corp and Nippon Steel Corp. A fourth Japanese firm, Nippon Koei-Chodai, is the chief consultant on the US$218 million project.

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