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Saturday, January 9, 1999 Published at 12:41 GMT


World: Asia-Pacific

China bridge collapse kills 39

The operation to free trapped bodies continues

Authorities in China's Chongqing region have detained the builder who constructed Rainbow Bridge, which collapsed on Monday, klling 39.

A squad of 23 military police and 16 civilians died when the bridge broke beneath them, plunging them into icy water.


[ image: Experts say the bridge was badly constructed]
Experts say the bridge was badly constructed
According to the Chinese news agency, experts investigating the collapse discovered "irregularities" in both the contracting and construction of the steel bridge.

Another report - in the Communist Party's People's Daily newspaper -said parts of the bridge were rusty, concrete used in its construction was too weak and there were serious welding problems.

The detained private contractor, who has not been named, completed the bridge just three years ago for a state-owned corporation in Chongqing.

The search for more bodies is still going on, with part of the Yangtze River tributary being drained to try and reach victims trapped by the debris.

The collapse has sparked fears surrounding shoddy construction and corruption in the government's massive infrastructure spending spree. The government has said it will crack down hard on officials responsible for quality problems.

Last week the Chinese Prime Minister, Zhu Rongji, told workers on the massive Three Gorges dam project, one of the largest hydro-electric projects in the world, that they must avoid "carelessness or negligence" in its construction.



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