Girl dies, several feared missing in French bridge collapse

The dead girl's mother was pulled alive from a sunken car by bystanders, some of whom were
The dead girl’s mother was pulled alive from a sunken car by bystanders, some of whom were badly injured in the rescue attempt

MIREPOIX-SUR-TRN (France), Nov 19 (NNN-AGENCIES) — 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-sur-Tarn 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.

More than 60 emergency service members, including divers, were taking part in the rescue operation, Guyot told reporters, 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 more than 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 badly 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.

The Haute-Garonne department council said the bridge had undergone a “thorough” inspection in 2017, which had shown “no structural problem”.

Mirepoix-sur-Tarn mayor Eric Oget described it as a “very important crossing point” for people going to work in the regionla capital Toulouse on the other side of the river.

Many pedestrians used the bridge, he said, describing the collapse as a “real trauma” for the local population. — NNN-AGENCIES