The 2nd Anniversary of the Collapse of the Cần Thơ Bridge - An Engineer's Aspect


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Saturday, September 26, 2009

The 2nd Anniversary of the Collapse of the Cần Thơ Bridge

The Cần Thơ Bridge, a suspension bridge crossing the Hau River in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho, suffered structural failure at 8 am local time on the morning of September 26, 2007, when a 90 meter section of an approach ramp, which was over 30 meters above the ground, collapsed. There were 250 engineers and workers working on and under the span at the time.

Image from USA Today.

There are differing reports about the death toll. Reports range from 42 to over 60 fatalities. According to Dr. Trần Chủng, head of the national construction QA/QC authority under the Ministry of Construction of Vietnam, this is the most catastrophic disaster in the history of Vietnam’s construction industry; Mr. Ho Nghia Dung, Minister of Transport, agreed (Wikipedia).

Following is the news report from Vietnam Net on the day of the tragedy.

Can Tho bridge collapses, dozens of people die
17:03' 26/09/2007 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – A suspension bridge crossing the Hau River in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho, which was being built, suddenly collapsed this morning, September 26, killing dozens of engineers and workers.

Manh Hung, leader of construction team No.7, said: “This morning, when we were working, we suddenly heard a great explosion at a bridge-head. Dust covered a great air space while workers screamed out. The scene was so terrible. The whole great block of concrete fell on people below.”

The collapsed concrete girder crossing pillars No. 13, 14, 15 totalling 87m in length and 24m in width was poured yesterday. The incident occurred while around 250-260 workers of three Japanese contractors, Taisei, Kazima, and Nipponsteel, were working on the girder.

The initial reason for the collapse, according to local police, was that the 30m-heigh scaffolding system which was supporting the above girder was weak and collapsed, causing the concrete to fall.

Nguyen Quoc Vu, leader of the first-aid team at Vinh Long Hospital, said that as of 1pm this afternoon, 108 victims had been pulled out from the collapsed concrete block, many of whom were dead. All of the victims are male. Many people are still in the pile of concrete.

“We couldn’t directly go in to take victims out. The bridge project management board’s reaction is slow. We must do more quickly otherwise the remaining victims may die after 24 hours because of suffocation and exhaustion,” he said.

Survivors have been taken to Can Tho General Hospital and some district hospitals of Vinh Long province which are near to the incident site.

According to Can Tho General Hospital, of 40 hospitalised victims, around ten have died. At the Military Hospital 121, 25 others have died. The 30/4 Hospital in Can Tho City has received 17 victims, two of whom have died.

This morning nearly 1,000 local people went to the Can Tho Hematology Centre to donate their blood to save victims of the bridge collapse. The centre’s director Nguyen Ngoc Huynh said that it had received around 700 units of blood of various types.

“We had to refuse 300 blood donors because the volume of blood collected from other donors at local hospitals is enough. Around 2,000 people have registered for blood donation. This is the first accident that we have had to collect such a great volume of blood,” Mr. Huynh said.

Minister of Construction Ho Nghia Dung this morning sent an urgent report to the government about the collapse of Can Tho bridge and he flew to Can Tho this noon.

Nguyen Van Cong, Transport Ministry Office Manager, said that the ministry would focus on dealing with the consequences of the accident. Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai instructed the Transport Ministry to urgently work with the Departments of Transport of Can Tho and Vinh Long provinces to solve the consequences of the accident.

The Transport Ministry has set up a board to solve the consequences of the accident led by Deputy Minister Ngo Thinh Duc.

According to Nguyen Ngoc Long, Head of the Quality Examination and Management of Transport Work Agency, the incident happened because of loose supervision of contractors.

An investigation was launched to discover the cause of the collapse. On March 6, 2008, the Ministry of Construction reported their findings.

Vietnam Real Estate Online published a synopsis of the press conference:

Sunken foundation caused Can Tho Bridge
03/07/2008, 10:07

The sinking of a makeshift foundation framework was blamed as the main cause of the Can Tho Bridge collapse last September in the eponymous southern city, the government said yesterday.

Two spans of the Can Tho Bridge broke and collapsed on September 26, leaving 54 dead and 80 others injured.

At a press briefing yesterday to announce the cause of collapse, the Ministry of Construction filed a report on the result of the eight-month probe into the disaster.

Minister of Construction Nguyen Hong Quan speaks at the press conference announce the cause of collapse of the Can Tho Bridge in Hanoi Wednesday.

The sinking of the bridge's makeshift foundation was pinpointed as the primary reason for the collapse, the report said. The dipping phenomenon caused the bridge support to tumble, breaking two bridge spans, the report elaborated.

The report added the sinking of the foundation was an "unfortunate situation and hard to project in the design process."

Minister of Construction Nguyen Hong Quan said the investor, design contractor, and consultant contractor would have to bear responsibility for the collapse.

A Japanese consortium of Taisei Corp., Kajima Corp. and Nippon Steel Corp. were in charge of Package 2 when the disaster occurred on the side of Can Tho City's neighboring Vinh Long Province.

So far, contractors involved have paid damages to affected individuals and the family members of deceased victims, Quan said.

Further responsibilities, including possible criminal charges, would be taken into account after the formal conclusion of the investigation was issued.

Construction of the bridge had begun in September 2004 with official development assistance from Japan. The US$300 million bridge was originally scheduled for completion this year.

Source: Thanhnien News

According to VIETNAM BUSINESS FINANCE NEWS, construction work on Can Tho Bridge resumed on Monday, August 25, 2008, after an 11-month suspension.

"The Japanese contractors, a joint venture of Taisei Corporation, Kajima Construction and Nippon Steel (TKN), resumed construction of the main span of the bridge, called Package No. 2, by building temporary poles from Pole No. 13 to Pole No. 15. Construction began again after the Minister for Construction and head of the State Investigation Committee for Can Tho Bridge Collapse, Nguyen Hong Quan, met with concerned parties to discuss resumption of the work.

Quan was quoted by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper as saying that TKN had completed a new design for the temporary pole system to ensure safety.

The supervisor and consultant Nippon Koei-Chodai, as well as the Japanese contractors TKN, have sent new managers from Japan to replace the previous ones at Can Tho Bridge."

Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai has asked that the Can Tho Bridge be finished by March of 2010, reported Vietnam Real Estate Online on July 20, 2009.

Sap cau Can Tho-Can Tho's bridge collapse
This video is an extract from a TV program in Vietnam.