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9 Die in Bridge Collapses in China

April 19, 1999

BEIJING (AP) _ At least nine workers died and 10 more were injured when a bridge under construction in southwestern China collapsed 130 feet into a gorge, a state-run newspaper reported.

Witnesses said the workers fell one by one into the gorge along with large slabs of concrete as the bridge suddenly started to break apart Saturday morning, the Yangcheng Evening News said.

At least 20 workers were on the bridge, near the city of Chengdu in Sichuan province, 1,000 miles southwest of Beijing. Some are still believed to be buried in the rubble on the gorge’s floor, the paper said.

The three-year-old bridge was being rebuilt after a previous collapse last July, the paper said. No one was killed or wounded in the first accident.

Authorities suspended the local Communist Party secretary following Saturday’s collapse and detained officials from the company building the bridge, the paper said.

The collapse highlights problems of shoddy construction and siphoning off of funds by corrupt officials as China engages in massive public works spending to spur its slowing economy.

Corruption was blamed in the Jan. 4 collapse of another bridge in Sichuan province, which killed 40 people and injured 14.

A court earlier this month sentenced a local Communist Party official to death and 12 others to prison terms ranging from three to 13 years for taking bribes in exchange for ignoring the use of substandard materials.

Update hourly