Workers search for more Vietnam bridge victims

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CAN THO, Vietnam, Sep 28 (Reuters) Recovery crews using sniffer dogs and cranes today searched for more bodies believed to be trapped under the rubble of a bridge in southern Vietnam that collapsed killing up to 64 people.

Officials said workers from Vietnam and Japan were lifting broken slabs of concrete from the rubble of Wednesday's disaster in the Mekong Delta when a section of Japanese-funded bridge under construction collapsed.

State-run Vietnam News Agency said 64 people, mostly workers, were killed in the accident and 180 injured.

The bridge was being built over Hau river to link Can Tho city with Vinh Long and to improve access to Vietnam's commercial centre of Ho Chi Minh City.

''Most of the deceased were the main working people to feed their wives and children,'' Truong Van Lot, deputy chairman of My Hoa commune's Peoples Committee, was quoted by Saigon Giai Phong (Liberation Saigon) newspaper as saying.

Vietnam is developing its infrastructure of roads and bridges and ports to keep up with an economy growing at more than 8 per cent a year. Much of the funding an expertise is being provided by Japan.

Donations of money for the families of the victims of Vietnam's worst bridge accident poured in from all over the country, which has a per capita annual income of only 835 dollar.

The Vietnam News Agency said nearly 7 billion dong (430,000 dollar) had been raised.

Images of funerals dominated today's early TV news in Can Tho city and Vinh Long province. 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 one section.

Work on the 2.75-km ong bridge started in 2004 and it was scheduled for completion next year.

REUTERS SG PM9000

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