The death toll in Wednesday morning’s Can Tho bridge collapse in Vietnam has risen to least 52 with more than 150 others injured, police have said.
More people remain stuck in the rubble, officials at the scene told Thanh Nien.
However, with just one crane arriving at the disaster scene by Wednesday evening to move the rubble, rescue work was proceeding slowly.
The police said earlier there had been around 100 workers directly beneath the section that collapsed at 08:30 am at the start of the morning shift. Another 150 had been on the bridge.
“The top priority now is rescue work,” Deputy Minister of Transport Ngo Thinh Duc told Vietnam Television. “The most difficult task now is to remove the huge fallen concrete blocks to save the people trapped underneath.”
He said about 150 troops had been mobilized for the rescue work.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, currently in New York for the United Nations general assembly, sent a message urging authorities to mount a rapid rescue operation and investigate the cause of the accident.
By 5 pm Wednesday, just a few survivors had been found.
One of them, Vu Van Cuong, told Thanh Nien he had heard people screaming for help from beneath where he had been under the rubble.
“I heard a guy speaking to his mother on the mobile phone saying, ‘Mom, save me’,” a sobbing Cuong said.
Asked why collapsed, some officials and construction engineers told Thanh Nien that rains could have softened the foundation.
That could have, in turn, caused the scaffolding system to collapse, leading to the collapse of parts of the 90-meter section of the 2.75 km long bridge. It had only been built Tuesday.
The shock wave triggered by the collapse knocked down two nearby cafeterias.
Construction of the bridge started in September 2004 using Official Development Assistance from Japan. The US$300 million bridge was expected to be completed next year.
It is being built across the Hau river to link Can Tho and Vinh Long provinces, with the disaster occurring on the Vinh Long province side.
Source: Thanh Nien