|A suspension bridge broke yesterday morning in the northern province of Lai Chau, killing eight people and seriously injuring 40. — VNA/VNS Photo Cong Hai-Quang Duy.
LAI CHAU (VNS)— At least eight people were killed and nearly 40 were seriously injured when a suspension bridge broke yesterday morning in Son Binh Commune during the funeral of senior official in Lai Chau Province.
The Government rushed doctors from leading Ha Noi hospitals by helicopter to the northern mountainous province to help local doctors treat victims, especially those with serious head injuries.
The doctors from the capital city were able to help local counterparts perform surgeries on patients that needed them.
Later yesterday, Transport Minister Dinh La Thang visited the victims at the hospital and conveyed get-well wishes from the nation's leaders. Thang will visit the accident site today and direct investigations and other follow-up measures.
Chairman of the Son Binh People's Committee Vang A Ho said the tragedy occurred when local residents were attending the funeral of the deputy chairman of the commune's People's Council, who had died in a road accident. When the funeral procession was crossing the bridge, which connects the Chu Va 8 Village and Chu Va 6 Village, it broke. The coffin and many people fell into the stream below.
Most of the victims are adults from the two villages. Among the severely injured was a police officer on duty.
The injured are being treated at the Tam Duong Hospital and the Lai Chau General Hospital.
The commune authorities have announced a compensation of VND5.4 million or US$250 for the families of the dead and VND2.7 million ($130) for each of the injured.
The 1.5-tonne suspension bridge was opened to the public in December 2012.
According to those who had escaped the accident, the funeral delegation had been split into three groups. The first 20-member group had crossed the bridge safely. The second group, with more than 40 members carrying the coffin, fell victim to the bridge's collapse.
Deputy Chairman of the provincial People's Committee Nguyen Chuong said yesterday afternoon that a preliminary investigation had identified the overloading of the tonne bridge as the reason for its collapse.
The large number of people crossing the bridge simultaneously had caused a break in a cast iron junction, which then led to the breaking of the supports of one side of the bridge, causing it to turn sideways and throwing the victims 10 metres to the dry riverbed below, Chuong stated.
He added that the river was shallow since the dry season is underway, leaving large stones protruding from the riverbed.
The province has mobilised all the relevant authorities, police and military forces as well as all hospitals around Tam Duong District to join the rescue efforts. The area was also sterilised and disinfected.
The district has put into action a plan to build a temporary bridge to allow residents to cross to the other side. — VNS