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New highway collapses on mountain, 2 die

By Yang Jian (Shanghai Daily)

09:04, July 05, 2012

TWO people died when a highway in southwest China's Yunnan Province collapsed just two months after it opened, local government said yesterday.

A mountainous section on the 132.6-kilometer highway linking Yuanyang and Luchun counties collapsed during rains on Monday morning, the Luchun government said.

The highway was opened on April 27 and is still in trial operation, an official with the Luchun road construction and management authority told Shanghai Daily yesterday.

A van running on the highway dropped into a valley over 1,000 meters deep during the collapse, said Shi Xingfeng, who has a friend who witnessed the events.

The blacktop road that winds around the mountain often enveloped in by mist cracked in many places and broke off along the cliff, a picture posted online by witnesses showed.

The highway, costing 4.22 billion yuan (US$665 million) is one of the most expensive construction projects done by the province, the local Kunming Daily has said.

"The highway is also one of the most difficult projects because the mountainous areas have been continuously hit by landslides," the newspaper reported when the highway opened in April.

The highway slightly collapsed in more than 10 places in April shortly after its opening. The local traffic authority fixed the damage in an attempt to make sure it could be officially opened soon, the newspaper reported.

The construction was done ahead of schedule and the provincial government awarded the construction headquarters 500,000 yuan for its efficiency, the report said.

The deputy commander for construction of the highway, surnamed Ma, yesterday said he knew nothing about the accident because he was out of the office on businesses.

The local government began building the highway in September 2009 when there was only an old road linking the county surrounded by mountains and the outside.

Yang Fude, the county's traffic bureau director, had called the highway a "road leading to richness" that would boost the local economy.

The accident was still under investigation, officials said yesterday.

There was a similar incident a year ago in the province when three spots on a 90-kilometer highway linking Xinping Yi and Dai Autonomous County and the Sanjiangkou area collapsed in heavy rain on June 27, killing two people.

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