13 persons killed and over 70 missing in bridge collapse in western Nepal

Update: Death toll reaches 20 (28 Dec. 07)

Update: Toll reaches 16 with 36 still missing (26 Dec. 07)

surkhet bridge collapse2

At least 13 persons were killed and over 70 missing after an overloaded suspension bridge over the Bheri River in Western Nepal collapsed Tuesday afternoon.

Nearly 300 people were crossing the ill-fated bridge connecting Daha-chaur and Medhapura VDCs in Surkhet when it collapsed at around 1:30 this afternoon, the district police office quoted eye-witnesses as saying.

The people were on their way to a big religious fair at nearby Subha-ghat area when the bridge built only a few months back collapsed.

At least 15 people, most of them women and girls, have been rescued and airlifted to the Bheri Regional hospital for treatment.

Security officials involved in aerial inspection of the incident site informed that scores of people could be seen swept by the river. Deputy Inspector General at the regional Armed Police Force Office, Krishna Bahadur Bista informed that most of them included women and girls.

The zonal police office informed that over 150 people were rescued from the river till the evening.

Among them, nearly 50 people were taken to Birendranagar for treatment, the police added.

Local heads of the administrative and security agencies in the region reached the accident site which lies around ten kilometers northeast of Chhinchu Bazaar.

Around two hundred people reportedly managed to swim to safety.

Soldiers from the Chhinchu and Surkhet barracks of the Nepal Army rushed to the site immediately after coming to know about the incident, head of the mid-western division of the army, Brig. Gen. Ananta Bahadur Thebe, said.

Thebe added that they were planning to send an additional army unit on a privately chartered Simrik Air helicopter.

As the water levels are low in the river, the chances of more people surviving are good, officials said. (Kantipur)

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