Borneo bridge collapse: death toll reaches four, many remain missing
November 27, 2011
The death toll from yesterday's suspension bridge collapse on the Indonesian island of Borneo has risen from three to four, with a six-month-old baby among the dead. Search and rescue teams continue to look for survivors in the Mahakam River.
The initial death toll was raised at first to five, but was revised back down to four. The number of wounded rose from at least seventeen to at least nineteen, but Monsters and Critics offers a figure as high as 39 injured; Indonesia Today yesterday suggested the actual figure was 100 hospitalised. Roughly 40 people remain missing at the scene in East Kalimantan's Kutai Kartanegara district, where "Kalimantan's Golden Gate Bridge" linked the towns of Tenggarong and Samarinda.
At least three cars, several motorbikes, and at least one public bus all fell into the Mahakam River. Another car was left overturned and balanced upon wreckage over the water. State-owned builders PT Hutama Karya completed the bridge about a decade ago in the image of California's Golden Gate Bridge, and it is now reported it was under repair at the time of the failure. New information suggests a cable on the 720-metre structure failed as workers dealt with it; six of the repair crew are among the missing.
National police representative Boy Rafly Amar said "It is believed that some victims are still in the river. There are two buses in the river and efforts are under way to lift them." He said 39 were rescued with 20 still in hospital. Health Minister Endang Rahayu Sedyaningsih visited survivors in Parikesit Hospital and promised them medical treatment at government expense.
"It happened so fast, only about 30 seconds," according to National Disaster Management Agency spokesman Sutopo Nugoroho. National search and rescue head Daryatmo said Monday will see cranes attempt to move debris.
The president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has sent three ministers to the site to investigate the accident, while Bambang Widaryatmo, head of East Kalimantan's police, promised "parties found to be negligent will be prosecuted". The government has promised a replacement ferry service. The river is closed to boats as rescue operations continue, and a 22-strong team has been dispatched from the national police, comprising six forensics experts, five disaster victim identification specialists, and eleven investigators. They are there to augment the East Kalimantan Police.
Some people swam ashore after falling, with the aftermath filled with screams. 40-year-old Adam Nur describes breaking free from a car and swimming 300 metres with one arm after his other arm was injured in the fall. Syakrani, 24, says he survived by clinging to empty plastic containers when he fell from the bridge after leaving his truck to investigate a traffic jam. "The authorities should have closed the bridge if it was under repair," he said.
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