Eight killed after Kachin bridge collapses

At least eight people have been killed after a bridge collapsed in a jade-rich area of northern Burma’s Kachin state.

The bridge, which stretched across the Uru river in the Kachin state town of Hpakant, collapsed on 25 July, taking with it a soil-laden truck, three motorbikes and eight people. A Hpakant local said that one person remained missing.

“It is fortunate that the incident took place on a Sunday when there weren’t many students on the bridge,” he said. “As far as I know, there was a van and a truck on the bridge when it collapsed. The vehicles have been recovered and now a reconstruction plan for the bridge is in place.”

The bridge was about 90 metres long and made of iron frames and wooden planks. It connected the wards of Ngapyawtaw and Mashikahtaung, and was used by construction vehicles working in the nearby jade mines. The local said that the bridge had had little maintenance, and last year collapsed.

“The bridge was repaired once after it collapsed last year. We found that the iron frames were rusted and not durable to hold the bridge together when the wood planks broke. We didn’t see any renovations on the bridge.”

The area around Hpakant has been hit hard by flooding and landslides in recent weeks, which has destroyed roads and houses. The area is a mecca for mining companies and informal diggers, and heavy vehicles frequently traverse the poorly maintained network of roads.

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