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Overloaded trucks at fault for bridge collapse

By Zhou Huiying and Chen Xin  (China Daily)

08:20, September 20, 2012

Harbin authorities said on Wednesday that overloading caused the collapse of a bridge that killed three and injured five on Aug 24.

Four overloaded trucks, weighing more than 480 metric tons altogether, were on the right side of a 122-meter ramp of the Qunli viaduct project, said Liu Xingming, deputy head of a team investigating the accident.

That made the ramp tilt to one side and crash to the ground, plunging all four trucks to the pavement below, Liu told a news conference.

Liu, who is also deputy director of the Harbin Administration of Work Safety, said the investigation found that the ramp's designer, contractor and supervisor all have top-level qualifications, and no problems were found during the ramp's design, construction and supervision process.

Liu noted that when construction of the ramp finished in November, the designer, contractor, supervisor and some experts conducted a trial using seven vehicles, 30 tons each, to test the quality of the ramp.

"The experiment showed that the ramp could meet all the standards of the preliminary design," he said.

Xiao Rucheng, a bridge professor at Shanghai-based Tongji University, said the designer, builder and supervisor of a bridge would usually carry out a load-bearing test that is around 1.1 times heavier than the weight the bridge is designed to hold when the project is finished.

"From the test we could tell that the ramp that collapsed in Harbin was designed to hold less than 210 tons, so the four trucks, weighing more than 480 tons, far exceeded the capability of the ramp," he said.

"It was in line with our analysis before the investigation result came out."

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