Nine dead and more than 70 injured after bridge collapses in Peru

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A wooden suspension bridge in Peru, measuring 130 feet (40 m), broke into two pieces killing nine people and seriously injuring 70 others, mostly children. Two of the dead were teachers, and seven were students aged 10 to 13.

Parinacochas Province of the Ayacucho Region.
Image: AgainErick.

At least 70 to 80 people were on the bridge at the time of the collapse which happened near Coracora, the capital city of Parinacochas Province.

As four local schools were dismissed, the teachers and students walked home, crossing the bridge. Investigators say the bridges' collapse was due to too many people crossing at a single time.

The bridge traversed a dry riverbed canyon 320 feet (98 m) deep which had housed the Santa Barbara River. The suspension bridge is reported to be made of wooden board slats which were supported by steel cables anchored to cement posts.

"We've suffered a grave accident, a suspension bridge that goes to a high school has fallen, it has broken in two and we have a large number of students injured and dead." said Walter Antayhua, Mayor of Coracora. The bridge was slated for repairs last week.

Helicopters were dispatched to take the injured to the hospital, however rescue efforts were hampered by fog which prevented some of them from landing. 70 of the injured victims in a local hospital are suffering from serious injuries. Ayacucho health director Maria Torrealba reported that 33 of those were head injuries.

Rescuers continue their efforts to save 30 more school children, said Ayacucho Governor Ernesto Molina.