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More than 40 workers dead in Vietnam bridge collapse

September 27, 2007|From the Associated Press

HANOI — At least 42 workers were killed Wednesday when a bridge under construction across the Hau River in southern Vietnam collapsed, officials said.

The bridge, in the southern city of Can Tho, was part of a heavily traveled route that links the Mekong Delta and Ho Chi Minh City.

Le Van Ut, vice chief of police in Vinh Long province, said 80 people were injured. Rescue teams were digging through the rubble in search of survivors, said Le Viet Hung, vice chief of the Can Tho police.

"It was total chaos," he said. "It sounded like a huge explosion. It's the biggest accident I've ever seen."

The number of missing was unknown, but officials said at least 200 people were working on the bridge when it buckled.

Officials were investigating the cause of the accident.

Construction on the 1.7-mile, four-lane bridge started in 2004 and was expected to be finished next year. It was to be the largest suspension bridge in Vietnam and was intended to greatly speed up the trip across the river, which thousands make daily by ferry.

Rescue workers were using cranes and other equipment to move debris, said Vo Thanh Tong, chairman of the Can Tho people's committee. The section that collapsed was 98.4 feet high, about 328 feet long and was above land on the river bank, Tong said.

Images broadcast on Vietnamese television showed mounds of twisted steel and cables shrouded in dust and smoke. Dozens of workers in yellow helmets rushed about in the wreckage, some carrying stretchers with bloody victims.

"I expect the death toll to rise, as there are still victims trapped under the concrete," said Dang Van Tam, director of Central Can Tho General Hospital.

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