More bodies recovered from Vietnam bridge collapse

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CAN THO, Vietnam, Sep 27 (Reuters) Recovery crews today found eight more bodies in the rubble of a Vietnamese bridge taking the death toll from the collapse to around 60, officials said.

As many as 180 were injured, some of them suffering critical head wounds, in Wednesday morning's collapse of a section of a Japanese-funded bridge under construction in the southern Mekong Delta. Some 250 workers were on site at the time.

Military doctor Colonel Mai Ninh Nhat said two workers had also died of their injuries today.

Relatives crowded the military hospital in Can Tho city, which was visited by yellow-garbed Buddhist monks offering sympathies and cash to the victims' families.

President Nguyen Minh Triet visited Can Tho general hospital and the scene of the collapse near the busy Hau River that separates Can Tho from Vinh Long province. The site is 170 km (105 miles) southwest of Ho Chi Minh City.

''I visited many families. I share their pain. These pains are extreme,'' Triet told reporters.

''This is a regrettable accident but we wish that contractors, regulators will draw a lesson to overcome its consequences and ensure absolute safety.'' Underdeveloped Vietnam is ramping up infrastructure projects to keep pace with an economy growing at more than 8 ercent a year.

There were conflicting reports about the death toll with one contractor reporting 60 killed and the official Vietnam News Agency said 64 died and 180 were injured.

Officials said eight bodies were found today, the newspaper Saigon Giai Phong (Liberation Saigon) reported.

Nguyen Thi Chien said her son-in-law Nguyen Van Chien, injured in the collapse, had gone to work on the bridge because he could earn more money there than from river fishing, his family's traditional business.

''He does not know anything from yesterday,'' she said of her son-in-law as she sat in the yard of the military hospital in Can Tho. The hospital is treating the most serious cases and many of them were unconscious.

MOST SERIOUS ACCIDENT Transport Minister Ho Nghia Dung said in an interview with Reuters TV that the collapse was ''the most serious ever bridge incident in the history of the transport sector''.

Dung was one of several cabinet ministers in the ruling Communist Party to visit the scene of the disaster.

He said construction would resume as soon as the site was cleared and safe.

The twisted mass of steel, broken concrete and bent scaffolding stood at the height of a five-storey building about 500 metres (550 yards) from the river in Vinh Long.

The reason for the accident was not immediately known, but officials said rains may have softened the foundations, causing scaffolding to collapse and bringing down a 90-metre (300-foot) section that was being worked on.

One preliminary estimate of the cost put it at CAN THO, Vietnam, Sep 27 (Reuters) Recovery crews today found eight more bodies in the rubble of a Vietnamese bridge taking the death toll from the collapse to around 60, officials said.

As many as 180 were injured, some of them suffering critical head wounds, in Wednesday morning's collapse of a section of a Japanese-funded bridge under construction in the southern Mekong Delta. Some 250 workers were on site at the time.

Military doctor Colonel Mai Ninh Nhat said two workers had also died of their injuries today.

Relatives crowded the military hospital in Can Tho city, which was visited by yellow-garbed Buddhist monks offering sympathies and cash to the victims' families.

President Nguyen Minh Triet visited Can Tho general hospital and the scene of the collapse near the busy Hau River that separates Can Tho from Vinh Long province. The site is 170 km (105 miles) southwest of Ho Chi Minh City.

''I visited many families. I share their pain. These pains are extreme,'' Triet told reporters.

''This is a regrettable accident but we wish that contractors, regulators will draw a lesson to overcome its consequences and ensure absolute safety.'' Underdeveloped Vietnam is ramping up infrastructure projects to keep pace with an economy growing at more than 8 ercent a year.

There were conflicting reports about the death toll with one contractor reporting 60 killed and the official Vietnam News Agency said 64 died and 180 were injured.

Officials said eight bodies were found today, the newspaper Saigon Giai Phong (Liberation Saigon) reported.

Nguyen Thi Chien said her son-in-law Nguyen Van Chien, injured in the collapse, had gone to work on the bridge because he could earn more money there than from river fishing, his family's traditional business.

''He does not know anything from yesterday,'' she said of her son-in-law as she sat in the yard of the military hospital in Can Tho. The hospital is treating the most serious cases and many of them were unconscious.

MOST SERIOUS ACCIDENT Transport Minister Ho Nghia Dung said in an interview with Reuters TV that the collapse was ''the most serious ever bridge incident in the history of the transport sector''.

Dung was one of several cabinet ministers in the ruling Communist Party to visit the scene of the disaster.

He said construction would resume as soon as the site was cleared and safe.

The twisted mass of steel, broken concrete and bent scaffolding stood at the height of a five-storey building about 500 metres (550 yards) from the river in Vinh Long.

The reason for the accident was not immediately known, but officials said rains may have softened the foundations, causing scaffolding to collapse and bringing down a 90-metre (300-foot) section that was being worked on.

One preliminary estimate of the cost put it at $2.5 million.

A spokesman for one of the Japanese companies in a joint venture to build the 2.75-km (1.7-mile) long bridge said 16 of its workers were all accounted for.

Work on the bridge started in 2004 to link Can Tho and Vinh Long province and it was scheduled for completion next year.

REUTERS SS RN1725 .5 million.

A spokesman for one of the Japanese companies in a joint venture to build the 2.75-km (1.7-mile) long bridge said 16 of its workers were all accounted for.

Work on the bridge started in 2004 to link Can Tho and Vinh Long province and it was scheduled for completion next year.

REUTERS SS RN1725

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