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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 December 2007, 02:41 GMT
Hunt for scores missing in Nepal
Nepalese soldiers search for missing people in the Bheri River 26/12
Soldiers have been searching for bodies in the icy Bheri River
Police and soldiers are searching for around 50 people who are missing after a bridge collapsed in Nepal.

At least 16 people died and 32 were injured after the bridge plunged into an ice cold river in Chunchu village, 500km (310 miles) west of Kathmandu.

The suspension bridge over the Bheri River is reported to have snapped under the weight of 400 people crossing to get to a Hindu festival fair.

The remoteness of the area has been hampering rescue efforts.

Helicopter search

Initial reports indicated that more than 100 people were missing but Anil Kumar Pandey, chief district officer, told the Associated Press news agency that figure had now been revised to 50.

"Many people whose relatives thought they were missing have also returned to the villages today," he said.

He said the bridge's support cables are thought to have snapped under the weight of the crowds.

Hundreds of soldiers and police were rushed from nearby Nepalganj and Surkhet to help with the search.

Two helicopters joined the hunt for survivors and ferried the injured to hospital.

But officials have said that the chances of finding anyone else alive are slim.

The Bheri River has strong currents and is said to be difficult to swim in, although some people were able to scramble to safety as the river's flow is lower in winter.

Most of those known to have died were women and children.

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