The body count from the collapse of Can Tho Bridge was 46 and climbing early Thursday, while the number of injured stood at 122.
The wreckage in Can Tho
About 250 workers and engineers were reported to be working on the site when the accident occurred at 8 a.m.
One of the workers close by witnessed the events as they unfolded. “It was about 8:30 am when I heard this sound like thunder and saw a big cloud of dust as the bracing and spans between pylons 13, 14 and 15 gave way,” he told reporters.
The concrete that fell on the 100-odd workers below the 90-meter spans weighed between 1,500 and 2,000 tons. Many of them were buried in the rubble, and some still are.
The cause of the tragedy has yet to be determined. Duong Tuan Minh, general director of the My Thuan Project Management Unit, said the collapse of the bracing between pylons 13 and 14 linking the ramp with the main span could have been the primary cause.
Initial reports suggest the blame lies with the weak bracing for the fresh concrete. Workers had been pouring concrete in that section for several days.
Relief supplies, cash and rescue workers began flooding in almost as soon as the news came out.
|Deputy PM Hoang Trung Hai donates blood at Can Tho General Hospital|
Emergency teams from Ho Chi Minh City’s Cho Ray Hospital and several military hospitals are also there doing what they can to help Can Tho’s overloaded hospital staff.
Soon after nightfall, more than 100 casualties were being treated at Can Tho General Hospital, most of them with severe injuries.
Party and government leaders sent their condolences to the victim’s families as soon as they heard of the disaster.
Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung ordered the relevant agencies to prioritize rescue efforts for the missing and give prompt treatment to the 122 people injured in the collapse.
They also ordered government ministries and the authorities of Vinh Long and Can Tho to provide financial assistance to the families of the dead and the injured.
The Health Ministry promptly dispatched a team to Can Tho led by Deputy Minister Tran Chi Liem, who heads the Department for Countering Disasters and Search and Rescue.
A mobile police team for the southwestern region, known as E21, went straight to the construction site to join the rescue operation and begin investigating the cause of the collapse.
An urgent call for blood donations by Deputy Transport Minister Ngo Thinh Duc drew an immediate response from hundreds of students and soldiers.
Once Can Tho Bridge is completed, which was to have been in December 2008, the four-lane crossing will be Vietnam’s longest cable-stayed bridge with a total length of 2,750 meters.
|Police identify dead workers who have just been pulled from the rubble|
It will significantly improve road travel between the Mekong Delta and Ho Chi Minh City and make the delta much more accessible.
A consortium of Japanese contractors – Taisei, Kajima and Nippon Steel – is building the bridge. The supervising consultant is Nippon Koei-Chodai.
The total cost is estimated at VND4,832 billion (US$342.6 million), so the structure, when it is eventually finished, will be not only Viet Nam’s longest bridge but also its most expensive.
Hundreds Killed, Injured as Can Tho Bridge Collapses