HANOI, Sep 26 (Reuters) A bridge under construction today collapsed in southern Vietnam, killing at least 60 workers, and 100 others were missing, a contractor and police said.
State-run Vietnam TV showed footage of the damage to the collapsed concrete and steel structure in Can Tho City and reported that people were still trapped in the rubble.
A contractor with China State Construction Engineering Corp, one of the firms involved in the construction of the bridge, said by telephone that 60 people were dead.
''They are still pulling out bodies from the rubble, I could hear the screams,'' the contractor said from Can Tho, which is 170 km south of the commercial centre of Ho Chi Minh City.
Police said there were about 100 workers directly under the section of the bridge over the Hau river where the scaffolding collapsed at about 0700 hrs IST at the start of a shift. About 150 workers were on the bridge surface, a Can Tho police officer said.
''The figures of victims are still being updated but as many as 100 could be dead or missing for now,'' the officer said by telephone.
The cause of the collapse on a section of the 2.75 km long bridge was not immediately known, but Vietnam TV reported that rains may have softened the foundation.
The bridge was being built at a cost of 300 million dollars to be finished next year.
Most of the workers were Vietnamese but the contractor said that less than 10 Filipinos and Japanese workers were unaccounted for.
Officials in Can Tho said about 250 engineers and workers from three Japanese contractors -- Taisei Corp, Kajiima Corp and Nippon Steel Engineering Co Ltd -- were on the construction site at the time of the accident.
Hau river is one of the nine tributaries of the Mekong river when it enters southern Vietnam from Cambodia. Rice traders said barge traffic would not be affected by the accident.
The online VnExpress (www.vnexpress.net) newspaper quoted officials in Can Tho as saying the scaffolding collapsed.
''We heard a loud explosion and then a big cloud of dust and screams from workers stuck in the rubble,'' the state-run newspaper quoted a bridge engineer at the site as saying.
REUTERS SG BD1225