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Hundreds missing after Nepal bridge collapses

Hundreds missing after Nepal bridge collapses

At least six people died and hundreds on a religious pilgrimage were missing after an overcrowded bridge collapsed in western Nepal yesterday, police and officials said.
Nearly 400 people were said to have been on the bridge across a gorge over the Bheri River 380 kilometers west of the capital Katmandu when it collapsed, district officials and police said.
Local police said as many as 20 people who had suffered various injuries had been airlifted by helicopter to the district headquarters at Birendranagar as rescue teams raced to the remote area ahead of nightfall. "Hundreds of people went missing," local officer Ghanashyam Chaudhary told Agence France-Presse by telephone, adding that many may have been swept downstream into remote areas of the mainly agricultural countryside that surrounds the Bheri, one of Nepal's largest rivers.
But as many as 100 people reportedly managed to swim to safety so far with the Bheri River at a winter season low flow, Chaudhary said, but rescue teams including the army were battling cold and rugged terrain around the river.
Chief district officer Anil Kumar Pandey, who was at the site, told AFP by telephone that two helicopters had arrived to help scour the river and evacuate injured people after the bridge, made of metal and steel coils and estimated at 500 meters across, collapsed.
He said the initial cause of the collapse may have been a catastrophic failure of one of the pillars that supported the bridge.
He also said more than 100 army and police officials had been called to help.
The bridge was crowded because local residents were heading to a religious ceremony to celebrate the full moon that began Monday, Pandey said.
"The remoteness of the area and poor communication facilities has delayed rescue efforts," he said.


Updated : 2020-12-04 17:04 GMT+08:00