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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 December 2007, 17:40 GMT
Scores missing from Nepal bridge
The river is said to have strong currents

At least 15 people have been killed and scores are missing feared drowned after a suspension bridge collapsed in Nepal.

The accident happened in Chunchu village, 500km (310 miles) west of Nepal's capital, Kathmandu.

Scores of people were crossing the 500m steel bridge over the Bheri River to get to a local Christmas Day fair, officials said.

Those injured have been taken to local towns but the remoteness of the area has been hampering rescue efforts.

Hundreds of soldiers and police were rushed from nearby Nepalganj and Surkhet to help with the rescue, but the operation was halted when night fell.

Officials said chances of finding anyone else alive were slim.

Helicopter search


The Bheri River is said to have strong currents and be difficult to swim in although some people were seen scrambling to safety as the winter flow is lower.

Most of those killed were women and children. At least 22 people have been seriously injured.

There are fears the number of missing could run into the hundreds.

Anil Kumar Pandey, chief district officer, told AFP news agency helicopters had been called in to help with the search.

"The remoteness of the area and poor communication facilities have delayed rescue efforts," Mr Pandey said.

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