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Vehicles, pedestrians fall into river after bridge collapses in SW China (2)

Xinhua)  16:10, July 09, 2013  

The bridge over the Tongkou River in Jiangyou, Sichuan, collapsed at around 11 a.m..(Photo/Xinhua)

CHENGDU, July 9 (Xinhua) -- An unknown number of vehicles and pedestrians fell into a river in southwest China's Sichuan Province after a bridge collapsed on Tuesday morning, local authorities said.

The bridge over the Panjiang River in Jiangyou City collapsed around 11:30 a.m., sources with the city's publicity department said.

As of noon, three people had been rescued and sent to a local hospital. They are in non-life-threatening conditions, sources said.

The exact number of people who fell into the river and the number of casualties has not yet been verified. Witnesses said a few sedans, a truck and several pedestrians had fallen into the river after the collapse.

Local fire authorities have dispatched 55 rescuers with six steamboats to search a 10-km stretch of the river downstream.

The water level in the river has risen significantly over the past two days amid continuous rainfall in the region. An initial investigation indicated that flooding at a rate of 7,000 cubic meters per second may be to blame for the collapse.

The bridge, built in 1967, is about 200 meters long and 6 meters wide. It was repaired and fortified after the devastating Wenchuan earthquake in 2008 in the same province.

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