(Yicai Global) Oct. 24 -- Severely overloaded vehicles likely caused the collapse of a section of bridge in the eastern Chinese city of Wuxi two weeks ago, according to the initial findings of an investigation by the transport ministry.
A section of the 312-national highway in Wuxi fell over on Oct. 10, killing three people, CCTV News reported Zhou Rongfeng, deputy director of the ministry's highways bureau, as telling reporters in Beijing today. The specific circumstances of the disaster are still under investigation, the report said, citing a ministry bulletin released at the press conference.
The ministry and other government departments will look very carefully into the cause of the accident, issue timely accident warnings and improve safety management to ensure similar mishaps are not repeated, Zhou added.
Overloaded trucks are a long-standing issue on China's roads because of fierce competition and lax regulation. Individuals from the logistics firm that owned the vehicles involved in the bridge collapse are being questioned by police, and a nationwide clampdown on overladen vehicles is under way.
No breaks or cracks in the bridge's deck were found and its design complied with standards, according to an early probe by experts on the investigation team and from the ministry. Hence, the preliminary analysis concluded that severely overloaded semi-trailer towing vehicles caused the accident.
The bridge toppled over when two trucks carrying hot-rolled steel coils ran on the same side, an earlier CCTV-2 report said. The approved maximum load for such trucks is about 30 tons, but they were carrying nearly 160 tons.
The design of the single-column bridge is widely used in China, and its advantages are a small footprint, large capacity and wide sphere of vision beneath, Xu Hanxuan, an associate professor at Chang'an University's School of Highway, previously told Yicai Global. But widespread heavy vehicle overload has dented the safety performance of these structures.