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The BBC's Damian Grammaticas
"From the air the scale of the collapse was clearly visible"
 real 56k

Sunday, 27 August, 2000, 14:04 GMT 15:04 UK
Bridge collapses in Taiwan
Kaohsiung-Pingtung bridge
Government is asking if poor construction is to blame
Twenty-two people are in hospital after a busy road bridge collapsed in southern Taiwan on Sunday, sending at least 16 cars plunging into the river below.

Eyewitnesses described how drivers and passengers fled their cars and raced to safety as chunks of concrete dropped into the water.

Drivers said they heard a rumbling sound as a middle section of the four-lane bridge - connecting the cities of Kaohsiung and Pingtung - broke and fell into the river.

President Chen Shui-bian has ordered an inquiry to determine whether shoddy construction was involved in the collapse.

Public works and infrastructure in Taiwan have come under criticism since the massive earthquake in September 1999 that killed 2,400 people.

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Witnesses of the bridge collapse said cars crashed against the railings and more than a dozen hung on the tilting span.

Kaohsiung-Pingtung bridge
There were fears some cars had been washed down the river
The 22 people involved in the incident were taken to hospital with minor injuries.

Taiwanese police have been searching for signs of vehicles that may have been washed down the river.

But after four hours of searching with divers, boats and a helicopter, no cars were found in the river, according to fire officials.

The bridge, which is about 2km (1.2 miles) long, is the main thoroughfare into Kaohsiung from the neighbouring Pingtung county.

Kaohsiung is Taiwan's second largest city, about 190km south of the capital, Taipei.

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See also:

23 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Typhoon death toll rises
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In pictures: Taiwan's typhoon
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