Skip to main content

At least 8 killed after firework truck blast causes bridge collapse in China

By Jethro Mullen, CNN
updated 10:58 AM EST, Fri February 1, 2013
A rescuer looks for survivors at the scene near the city of Sanmenxia, Henan province, on February 1, 2013.
A rescuer looks for survivors at the scene near the city of Sanmenxia, Henan province, on February 1, 2013.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The latest death toll from state media is 8
  • NEW: 13 other people have been injured, state media say
  • An 80-meter stretch of the bridge collapses after a truck carrying fireworks explodes
  • Fireworks are a key part of Lunar New Year celebrations in China

Hong Kong (CNN) -- A truck carrying fireworks on an expressway bridge in central China exploded Friday, causing part of the bridge to collapse and sending dozens of vehicles plunging off the edge, authorities said.

The exact number of casualties wasn't immediately clear. Highway police in Henan province, where the explosion happened, said on their official microblog account that at least 11 people had been killed.

But that post was later deleted and replaced with one that gave the lower total being reported by Xinhua, the official state news agency. By late Friday afternoon, Xinhua was citing local authorities as saying that eight people had been killed.

The state-run China National Radio had earlier reported on its website that as many as 26 people had died in the disaster. It didn't say where it got the information from.

Map: Sanmenxia, Henan province

Authorities have closed the expressway while search and rescue efforts are under way, Xinhua reported, and 13 injured people have been retrieved from the wreckage so far.

At least 25 vehicles are believed to have fallen off the bridge to the ground about 30 meters (100 feet) below, Xinhua said.

State broadcaster CCTV carried footage of a yawning gap in one part of the bridge, with mounds of debris, including rubble and parts of vehicles, spread out below

Rescue workers in bright orange overalls clambered over upturned trucks, looking for survivors.

Xinhua said an 80-meter (260-foot) stretch of the bridge had collapsed after the explosion, which occurred at 8:52 a.m. local time in Mianchi County.

China's fireworks tradition

Fireworks are an enduring element of celebrations of the Lunar New Year in China, one of the country's most important holidays that takes place this month. But they have been at the root of accidents in the past.

In 2009, fireworks set off a huge fire that gutted a brand-new hotel in central Beijing, briefly prompting calls for the return of a ban put in place at the height of Chairman Mao Zedong's rule in the 1970s.

According to local folklore, fireworks drive away monsters and evil spirits. But under Mao they were prohibited, ostensibly on the basis that they were "bourgeois" and a "waste of money."

Beijing authorities on Friday urged residents to set off fewer fireworks during this year's Lunar New Year celebrations to avoid exacerbating the thick pollution that has cloaked the capital for much of the past month, Xinhua reported.

CNN's CY Xu in Beijing contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 7:27 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT