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At least six missing after bridge collapses in C. China (3)

(Xinhua)

09:51, May 14, 2012

Photo taken on May 13, 2012 shows the accident site after a bridge collapsed in Pingjiang County, central China's Hunan Province.(Xinhua/Bai Yu)

CHANGSHA, May 13 (Xinhua) -- At least six people are missing after a bridge collapsed Sunday morning in central China's Hunan province, local authorities said.

The 120-meter Fangu Bridge, which connects two townships in Pingjiang county, collapsed at around 8:50 a.m. when one of its piers was hit by a sand dredge flushed downstream by floods, said an official with the county's transportation authorities.

At least nine people fell into the Changjiang River after the collapse, said a spokesman with the county government.

Three people have been saved and rescuers are still rushing to locate the missing six, said the spokesman.

The three have been rushed to hospital.

An official with the county's flood control headquarters had previously put the number of rescued people at five and said three were missing.

Six hours of rain early on Saturday pushed up water levels in the Changjiang River by three to four meters, said Li Zuoru, a local village official.

The bridge had been shut down by transportation authorities since Saturday morning because of the heavy rains which have toppled 3,500 homes and forced more than 28,880 people to evacuate in the county.

Despite the presence of both a warning sign and a watchman, some villagers still forced their way onto the bridge, Li said.

Witnesses said that there were people riding motorcycles on the bridge when it collapsed.

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