Girl dies, several feared missing in French suspension bridge collapse
Mirepoix-sur-Tarn, France - A 15 year old girl was killed after a suspension bridge over a river in southwest France collapsed on Monday, causing a car, a truck and possibly a third vehicle to plunge into the water, local authorities said.
Four people were rescued but several others were feared missing after the collapse of the bridge between Mirepoix-surTarn and Bessieres, 30km north of Toulouse, said fire service and local security chief Etienne Guyot.
The central part of the 155m bridge, measuring 6.5m wide, was submerged by the fast-flowing Tarn river.
A car bonnet could be seen sticking out of the water as helicopters circled overhead and emergency workers in inflatable boats searched for survivors.
Over 60 emergency service members, including divers, were taking part in the rescue operation, Guyot said, adding there were ‘probably several missing’.
Among those feared missing were the truck driver and the driver of a potential third vehicle,
Guyot said, adding that witnesses had reported seeing a van on the bridge. The dead girl was travelling by car across the bridge with her mother when it collapsed. Her body was retrieved from the river, which is 100m wide and over 20m deep at the level of the bridge.
The girl’s mother was pulled alive from the sunken car by bystanders, some of whom were injured in the rescue attempt.
Two rescue workers were also seriously hurt, according to the region's security department.
An investigation into the cause of the accident was underway. The bridge, dated to 1931, had a load limit of 19 tonnes and was ‘regularly checked’, Guyot said.
Rescuers near the suspension bridge which collapsed in Mirepoix-surTarn, near Toulouse, southwest France on Monday