Bridge collapses in southern Vietnam following barge collision

A railway bridge in Dong Nai, a province bordering Ho Chi Minh City to the northeast, was hit by a passing barge on Sunday, sending its middle span and three commuters to the water

The collapsed bridge and capsized barge that caused the accident are seen in this photo in Bien Hoa City, Dong Nai, Vietnam, March 20, 2016.

Local residents in Buu Hoa Ward in Bien Hoa, the capital city of Dong Nai, heard a loud noise coming from the collision between a barge and the Ghenh Bridge at 11:45 am.

The collision sent the middle span of the bridge crashing down into the water together with three crossing commuters, while turning the barge upside down.

Witnesses at the site of the accident reported that all three victims are safe, with two having been rescued by nearby fishing boats and one having managed to crawl ashore.

Four rescue motorboats were dispatched to the scene to search for any remaining victim.

Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper journalists reported from the scene that the middle span has been completely submerged.

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A view of the collapsed bridge from the river in Bien Hoa City, Dong Nai, Vietnam, March 20, 2016. Photo: Tuoi Tre

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A view of the collapsed bridge from the river in Bien Hoa City, Dong Nai, Vietnam, March 20, 2016. Photo: Tuoi Tre

The Ghenh Bridge, which connects the two shores divided by the Dong Nai River, was built by the French in the 1900s during the colonial period.

The bridge, together with two other bridges in northern and central Vietnam, was designed by the renowned Gustave Eiffel, the man behind the Eiffel Tower, according to some documents.

It plays a crucial role in the operation of the railway system of Vietnam, connecting southern provinces and cities, including Ho Chi Minh City, to the remaining parts of the country.

The collapse of the bridge has temporarily immobilized all trains running to and fro southern provinces starting from Dong Nai downwards.

According to Dao Anh Tuan, general director of Saigon Railways, the company has halted all departures from Saigon Railway Station.

Tuan said coaches will be used to transfer railway passengers across the river and they will be picked up by the train on the other side and continue their journey.

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Rescue teams search for any remaining victim at the site of the accident in Bien Hoa City, Dong Nai, Vietnam, March 20, 2016. Photo: Tuoi Tre

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A view of the collapsed bridge from the river in Bien Hoa City, Dong Nai, Vietnam, March 20, 2016. Photo: Tuoi Tre

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A view of the collapsed bridge from the shore in Bien Hoa City, Dong Nai, Vietnam, March 20, 2016. Photo: Tuoi Tre

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A view of the collapsed bridge in Bien Hoa City, Dong Nai, Vietnam, March 20, 2016. Photo: Tuoi Tre

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Workers are seen repairing the water pipe damaged by the accident in Bien Hoa City, Dong Nai, Vietnam, March 20, 2016. Photo: Tuoi Tre

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Traffic police block entry to the bridge in Bien Hoa City, Dong Nai, Vietnam, March 20, 2016. Photo: Tuoi Tre

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An approaching train stops near the site of the accident in Bien Hoa City, Dong Nai, Vietnam, March 20, 2016. Photo: Tuoi Tre

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A photo of the bridge taken approximately an hour before its collapse in Bien Hoa City, Dong Nai, Vietnam, March 20, 2016. Photo: Tuoi Tre

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