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Death toll rises to 40 from China bridge collapse
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16:27, August 16, 2007

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The death toll from the bridge collapse in central China's Hunan Province has risen to 40, rescuers reported on Thursday.

The 328-meter-long, 42-meter-high Tuojiang River bridge in Fenghuang County, in western part of Hunan Province, collapsed on Monday afternoon when an estimated 123 workers were dismantling its steel scaffolding.

Sixty-four workers escaped or were rescued while rescuers are still searching for the around two dozen victims thought to still be buried in the debris.

The disaster occurred nearly three days ago and expert believe the chances of finding any more survivors are slim.

The four-arch bridge was to link Fenghuang County, a popular tourist spot, with Daxing airport in Tongren City, neighboring Guizhou Province.

Construction began in March 2004 and had been scheduled to open to traffic at the end of the month.

A local official at the scene claimed that a "traditional and risky" type of bridge, made of stone and concrete, had been chosen over a steel structure to ensure "it remained in harmony with the natural environment".

A nine-member team of experts has arrived at the site to take samples from the rubble to determine whether the bridge had quality problems.

Meanwhile, an investigation team under the State Council has been established. The team, headed by Li Yizhong, director of the State Administration of Work Safety, comprises officials from the communications, construction, health and supervision ministries.

Source: Xinhua

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