Five killed after barge hits bridge near China's Guangzhou


Five people were killed after a barge collided with a bridge over a waterway in China's Pearl River Delta near Guangzhou city, causing part of the bridge to break off, plunging vehicles into the water, Chinese state media reported on Thursday.

The barge was travelling from Foshan city to a southern district of Guangzhou when it crashed into the bridge at 5:30 am (2130 GMT) on the Hongqili Waterway, the Guangzhou Maritime Safety Administration said in a statement.

Images on state-owned China Central Television (CCTV) showed an empty container barge lodged between two columns of the Lixinsha Bridge with part of the bridge's two-lane road deck missing. All road traffic on the bridge was halted.

Four vehicles and an electric motorbike fell off the bridge. Two vehicles, which included a bus, plunged into the water and three other vehicles ended up on the barge, CCTV said. The bus was carrying only its driver.

"The accident resulted in five deaths (one bus driver, one motorcycle driver and three people in a van)," CCTV reported.

"Two people were treated in the hospital and their vital signs are now stable; one crew member of the ship involved in the accident suffered minor injuries," the report added.

More than 100 emergency workers, including six divers, and about 15 boats and salvage vessels were involved in the rescue, said local media and officials at a press briefing.

Authorities were still investigating the cause of the accident, the Guangzhou maritime administration said on their WeChat social media account. It advised ships and vehicles using the route to make detours.

CCTV said the accident was caused by inappropriate actions by the crew, citing a press conference by Lixinsha Bridge authorities.

Local officials said nearby residents had been evacuated and that the vessel owner was detained by officials, according to the Global Times.

Lixinsha Bridge is the main transportation route for residents of Sanmin Island, the report said, adding that an official on the island told reporters that there was still a ferry available for residents to travel.

Work to strengthen the bridge, which provides residents with a land connection to the cities of Zhongshan and Shenzhen, began in 2022 because of safety concerns, according to CCTV.

However, the works have been repeatedly delayed. The city transportation department had marked end-August this year for completion of the works, the report added.

Guangzhou, the capital of the prosperous southern Guangdong province near the mouth of the Pearl River, is one of China's busiest maritime transportation and trading hubs.

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