AYUTTHAYA – Police say at least four people were killed when a small bridge collapsed near Thailand’s ancient capital of Ayutthaya.
Police Col. Jitkasem Sonkham says several motorcycle drivers and their vehicles fell into the Pasak river Sunday while they were
crossing the suspension bridge in Ayutthaya province’s Tha Ruea district.
Authorities found four bodies under the rubble. Twelve people were injured.
Jitkasem says the cement bridge was built a few years ago for pedestrians and small vehicles to cross but has not been well maintained. He says investigators believe the bridge was not over capacity at the time the accident happened but that it was in poor condition.
The investigation into the collapse of a suspension bridge in Tha Rua district of Ayutthaya province on Sunday evening has revealed that it was caused by a snapped supporting cable, the Engineering Institute of Thailand (EIT) said.
EIT secretary general Thanes Weerasiri said after inspecting the collapsed bridge that the reason was not the bridge structure as there was no sign of subsidence of poles or surrounding areas. The structure was strong enough so the collapse could only have come from a snapped cable, but there must be a thorough investigation as to why the cable broke.
The supporting bridge will be cut away from the structure to reduce further damage and the debris will be cleared away.
Transport Minister Chatchart Sittipan has instructed the Highways Department and the Rural Roads Department, which are responsible for suspension bridges, to inspect the bridges to ensure there will no repeat of the Tha Rua incident. The order also covers local administrations nationwide.
Chartchai Thipsunavee, director-general of the Rural Roads Department, said the department was responsible for four suspension bridges in Kanchanaburi, Nan, Sukothai and Pichit. An inspection showed all were safe to use.
Samphan Koonthaweelapphol, mayor of Loei city municipality, said after inspecting a 23-year-old suspension bridge in the province that it had received annual maintenance.
Four officials from Office of the Auditor General of Thailand visited the municipality of tambon Tha Luang in Tha Rua district without advanced notification. They are investigating corruption and found that some financial documents about repairs to the bridge last year were missing.
The bridge over Pa Sak River was built in 1982 to commemorate the 120th anniversary of the founding of the Rattanokosin era.
The collapse claimed four lives and injured 12 people who are being treated at six hospitals in Ayutthaya and Saraburi provinces. A 10-year-old girl is still in a critical condition.
It was open to use only for pedestrians though some teenagers rode their motorcycles across the bridge.