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Teenage girl and truck driver killed after suspension bridge collapses in France

The 15-year-old was killed on the bridge at Mirepoix-sur-Tarn.

The bridge in the town of Mirepoix.
The bridge in the town of Mirepoix.
Image: Google Street View

Updated Nov 18th 2019, 9:54 PM

A 15-YEAR-OLD GIRL and a truck driver have been killed after a suspension bridge over a river in southwest France collapsed, causing a car, a truck and possibly a third vehicle to plunge into the water.

Four people were rescued but several others were feared missing after the collapse of the bridge linking the towns of Mirepoix-sur-Tarn and Bessieres, 30 kilometres north of the city of Toulouse, said fire service and local security chief Etienne Guyot.

The bridge collapsed after the suspension cables snapped, crashing into the waters of the Tarn, with only a small portion left exposed above the river.

TV images showed a car bonnet sticking out of the fast-flowing waters of the Tarn river and emergency service helicopters circling overhead.

The body of the dead girl was pulled from the water, Toulouse prosecutor Dominique Alzeari said at the scene. Her mother was rescued by onlookers.

The truck driver’s body was found after a day-long search by more than 60 rescue workers, including divers, according to rescue workers and the mayor of Mirepoix-sur-Tarn, Eric Oget.

“The body, which is in the truck, has not yet been freed,” Oget told AFP.

Over 60 rescue workers, including divers, and 40 police were taking part in the search for survivors, Guyot told reporters, adding there were “probably several missing”.

Five people, including two rescue workers and some local people who tried to save the victims, were seriously injured, according to the region’s security department.

The bridge which had a load limit of 19 tonnes, dated to the 1930s, he said, and was “regularly checked”.

The mayor of Mirepoix-sur-Tarn Eric Oget described it as a “very important crossing point” for people going to work in Toulouse on the other side of the river.

Many pedestrians, including schoolgoers, also used the bridge, he said, describing the accident as a “real trauma”.

An investigation into the cause of the collapse is now under way.

The environment ministry said that recent inspections of the bridge had “shown no security defects”. 

The council of the local Haute-Garonne area said the bridge, which dated to 1931 and had been renovated in 2003, underwent a “thorough” inspection in 2017 showing “no structural problem”. 

A visual inspection of the 155-metrestructure, some 6.5 metres wide, confirmed that conclusion in 2018, the environment ministry said.

© – AFP 2019

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