Two killed after barge hits bridge near China's Guangzhou, plunging vehicles in water

The incident causes part of the bridge to break off, plunging vehicles into the water, Chinese state media reports

Liz Leeand Bernard Orr, Reuters
Published : 22 Feb 2024, 08:10 AM
Updated : 22 Feb 2024, 08:10 AM

Two people were killed after a barge collided with a bridge over a waterway in China's Pearl River Delta near Guangzhou city, causing part of the bridge to break off, plunging vehicles into the water, Chinese state media reported on Thursday.

The Guangzhou Maritime Safety Administration said in a statement on their WeChat social media account the barge was travelling from Foshan city to a southern district of Guangzhou, when it crashed into the bridge at 5:30 am (2130 GMT) in the Hongqili Waterway.

Images on state-owned China Central Television (CCTV) showed an empty container barge lodged between two columns of the Lixinsha Bridge with part of the bridge's two-lane road deck missing. All road traffic on the bridge was halted.

Four vehicles and an electric motorbike fell off the bridge. Two vehicles, which included a bus, plunged into the water and three other vehicles ended up on the barge, CCTV said. The bus was carrying only its driver. It was not immediately clear if the driver survived.

Two people died from the incident, one crew member was injured and two others rescued, state media said, with three more still missing.

City authorities have sent emergency and rescue personnel, including six divers and salvage vessels, to the scene, local media reported.

Authorities were investigating the cause of the accident, and information about casualties was still being verified, the Guangzhou maritime administration said in its statement. It also advised ships and vehicles using the route to make detours.

Local officials told media that nearby residents have been evacuated and that the vessel owner had been detained by officials, according to the Global Times.

Lixinsha Bridge is the main transportation route for residents of Sanmin Island, the report said, adding that an official on the island told reporters that there was still a ferry available for residents to travel.

Work to strengthen the bridge, which provides residents a land connection to the cities of Zhongshan and Shenzhen, began in 2022 because of safety concerns, according to CCTV.

However, the anti-collision and strengthening works have been repeatedly delayed. In the latest extension, the city transportation department has marked end-August this year for completion of the works, the CCTV report added.

Guangzhou, the capital of the prosperous southern Guangdong province near the mouth of the Pearl River, is one of China's busiest maritime transportation and trading hubs.