Borneo bridge collapse kills at least three as vehicles fall

Saturday, November 26, 2011

At least three people died today and seventeen more were injured after a road bridge collapsed on the Indonesian island of Borneo. At least three cars, several motorbikes, and a public bus all fell into the Mahakam River.

File:Islamic centre.jpg
File photo of the Islanic centre in Samarinda, with the Mahakam River in the foreground.
Image: Hidayat008.

The bridge was constructed from concrete roughly a decade ago to resemble California's Golden Gate Bridge, and links the East Kalimantan towns of Tenggarong and Samarinda. Police say there is no indication of why it failed. Completed in 2001, work started in 1995 and locals called it "Kalimantan's Golden Gate Bridge."

The wounded have been hospitalised, some with broken bones. The scene at the bridge, in Kutai Kartanegara district, was filled with screams in the aftermath of the collapse. The suspension bridge was erected by state-owned builders PT Hutama Karya and one segment has fallen into the water. Some vehicles are close to entirely submerged, and Indonesia Today suggests as many as 100 people may be injured. One damaged car was left inverted and suspended above the water.

Harmoni Adi, head of a search and rescue agency, said "[t]he death toll is likely to increase," after the 4:30pm local time collapse, with rescuers in Tenggarong searching the river for survivors. Some people swam ashore after falling from the structure, which spanned 700 metres. An eyewitness described heavy traffic on the bridge when it came down.