Bridge collapse in SW France

Laura

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This happened a day or two ago maybe 30 minutes away from our house:


Teenager killed in bridge collapse in southwest France
Two vehicles plunged into river when suspension bridge failed in Haute-Garonne

A teenager has died, several others were seriously injured and a number of other people are feared missing after a bridge collapsed north of Toulouse early on Monday, November 18.
The 15-year-old was a passenger in a car on the Mirepoix-sur-Tarn suspension bridge when it collapsed at about 8.30am. A truck and possibly a third vehicle also plunged into the river, reports say. Four people, including the victim's mother have been rescued, but emergency services believe they have not accounted for all the victims.
A number of people are being treated for serious or life-threatening injuries, including witnesses and members of the emergency services who tried to reach victims.
"It seems that at least one truck, one car and perhaps one van have disappeared into the watercourse," Toulouse prosecutor Dominique Alzeari said.

A total 80 firefighters, dog teams and divers as well as two helicopters are on site to search for victims.

Read more: School bus crossed bridge 'just before' collapse

"Many rescue resources are engaged (...) for a bridge collapse on the commune of Mirepoix sur Tarn," emergency services said on Twitter, adding that the departmental road D71 was cut off. "Please avoid the area and facilitate emergency access."

The lorry that reportedly crossed the bridge over the river Tarn at around the time of its collapse appeared to be over the permitted maximum 19-tonne weight, according to early reports published on the website of regional newspaper La Depeche du Midi.

The bridge, which is 155 metres long and six metres wide, was built in 1931 and renovated in 2003 by the conseil départemental de Haute-Garonne. An inspection in 2017 revealed no issues.

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The slightly odd thing is that just the night before we were talking about the terms "bowing" and "buckling" in terms of engineering/construction, and the examples given for "buckling" were bridges collapsing under excess weight. That is, they would "bow" until they "buckle" which meant breaking irretrievably.

I haven't figure out how they could lose a van in that river. All I've ever seen of it indicates that it is relatively shallow though I could be wrong. It has been raining quite a bit, so it might be deeper and running faster.
 

itellsya

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I find the missing van odd too. I would've thought some details would have emerged by now; like the company associated with it would've reported it missing, or maybe a relative notifies the police, something like that would have at least identified the missing person, but maybe because it's still early things are in the works.

As for the van itself, surely someone would have seen it by now - there has been a break in the weather - or, since they sent a helicopter up and down the river, wouldn't it had been relatively easy to spot?

As for the bridge, since the rain has been relentless recently, i wondered whether it perhaps weakened the foundations... Although, as also noted in the article, i was informed that of all the bridges that were listed to be repaired, this wasn't one of them.

It's strange, but it's still early so perhaps more info will emerge in the coming days.
 
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Pashalis

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I haven't figure out how they could lose a van in that river. All I've ever seen of it indicates that it is relatively shallow though I could be wrong. It has been raining quite a bit, so it might be deeper and running faster.
I find the missing van odd too. I would've thought some details would have emerged by now; like the company associated with it would've reported it missing, or maybe a relative notifies the police, something like that would have at least identified the missing person, but maybe because it's still early things are in the works.

As for the van itself, surely someone would have seen it by now - there has been a break in the weather - or, since they sent a helicopter up and down the river, wouldn't it had been relatively easy to spot?
From the picture provided in the first article posted by Laura above, the collapsed bridge can be seen and the river as well. Judging from that picture, the river doesn't look like a fast stream at all. In fact, it looks rather like a slow moving one. Also, it appears to be a rather ordinary river in terms of size. It isn't like we talk about the Amazonas river here either. So indeed the reports about possible missing cars is rather odd at this point to me too, especially considering the rather extensive search that seems to be ongoing. If it is rather unlikely that the river carried the possible missing car far away (and we talk about france here and not some barely populated place), then the question is; Where can the missing car/-s possibly be? I mean, it shouldn't be so hard to figure that out since the space where it could be is rather limited.

Having said that, if a car fell into the river and it floated for a while before sinking (which is quite possible), it could indeed have been carried to a more distant place before anybody noticed it, even if the river is slow running. So I guess it is in the realm of possibility that it actually sank quite some distance away and the search team simply hasn't looked there yet.
 

Niall

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They reportedly found the body of the man they say is the driver of the 'large vehicle' at around 10pm last night, so that's two people killed by the bridge collapse.

Yes, the lack of images of whatever this vehicle was is disquieting. They say the river was 4.5 meters deep at this point. 'Sources close to the investigation' claim the vehicle in question was 20 tons, and transporting a large auger (for drilling wells) that weighed 30.5 tons. So that would be 50 tons in total, more than twice the 19 tons permitted to cross the bridge.

Edit: Actually, they're saying the truck was found at 4.5 meters depth, suggesting the river is currently several meters deeper than that. Also, 'close to the bridge', there's an underwater pit that is 30 meters deep.
 
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Joe

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Yes, the lack of images of whatever this vehicle was is disquieting.
Seems they haven't retrieved it yet, and it's under the water, so no images. Like you said, seems it was a HGV pulling heavy well-drilling equipment, about 50 tons. Apparently the work colleague in the van behind the driver tried to warn him by flashing his lights etc.
 

c.a.

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Seems they haven't retrieved it yet, and it's under the water, so no images. Like you said, seems it was a HGV pulling heavy well-drilling equipment, about 50 tons. Apparently the work colleague in the van behind the driver tried to warn him by flashing his lights etc.
Some footge and info
...dated to the 1930s, he said, and was “regularly checked”.

The mayor of Mirepoix-sur-Tarn Eric Oget described it as a “very important crossing point” for people going to work in Toulouse on the other side of the river.

Many pedestrians, including schoolgoers, also used the bridge, he said, describing the accident as a “real trauma”.

An investigation into the cause of the collapse is now under way.

The environment ministry said that recent inspections of the bridge had “shown no security defects”.

The council of the local Haute-Garonne area said the bridge, which dated to 1931 and had been renovated in 2003, underwent a “thorough” inspection in 2017 showing “no structural problem”.

A visual inspection
of the 155-metrestructure, some 6.5 metres wide, confirmed that conclusion in 2018, the environment ministry said.


The bridge collapsed after the suspension cables snapped,
 
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