Roof of wooden bridge in China collapses from strong winds, killing eight

Village in rural Hangzhou battered by category 10 winds

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 July, 2018, 3:47pm
UPDATED : Monday, 30 July, 2018, 11:10am

Eight people were killed and three others were injured when the wooden cover on a footbridge collapsed during gale-force winds on Friday in Zhejiang province, eastern China.

Witnesses said the village of Hezuo in Tonglu county, rural Hangzhou, had been battered by heavy rain, thunderstorms and strong wind from around 8pm, The Beijing News reported on Saturday.

“I rushed over there right after it happened and the entire wooden cover had been blown off – it was in pieces and some of it was lying under the bridge,” one local resident said.

“People were crying – there were more than 10 people trapped under the debris.”

Officials from the Tonglu government on Saturday said gale-force winds travelling at 24 metres per second had brought down the structure.

“The intensity of the wind speed was approaching category 10 [with hurricane force at 12]. Hezuo has never seen anything over an 8. This is the first time the village has experienced such extreme weather,” Chen Bin, head of the county weather bureau, was quoted as saying.

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The bridge, which was used by pedestrians and cyclists, was built in 1984 and given a wooden cover in 2016 at a cost of 200,000 yuan (US$29,000), local officials said.

Village residents told the newspaper that concrete railings on the bridge had been removed when it was renovated in 2016.

The deputy director of a Tonglu hospital said most of the eight people who died had suffered chest injuries, rib fractures and head trauma. A 50-year-old woman and two men, aged 49 and 57, were all in stable condition in hospital, according to the report.

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Authorities have put up a temporary structure for locals to cross the river 300 metres from the bridge, which has been sealed off, the newspaper said.