Can Tho Bridge

Cần Thơ Bridge is a cable-stayed bridge over the Hậu (Bassac) River, the largest distributary of the Mekong River, in the city of Cần Thơ in southern Vietnam. The bridge is 2.75 kilometres long (1.68 miles). It has a 6-lane carriageway measuring 23 metres (76 feet) in width, with 4 lanes for traffic and two pedestrian lanes. It have a clearance of 39 metres (128 feet), which will allow large ships to pass underneath the bridge. The bridge was inaugurated on April 24, 2010.

The bridge is currently the longest main span cable-stayed bridge in Southeast Asia. The cost of construction is estimated to be 4.842 trillion Vietnamese đồng (approximately 342.6 million U.S. dollars), making it the most expensive bridge in Vietnam.

Construction

Prime Minister Phan Văn Khải launched construction of the bridge on September 25, 2004, and, prior to its collapse, it had been scheduled to be completed at the end of 2008. Khải said this, and sixteen more bridges, were a part of a plan to facilitate access to the region of the Cuu Long Delta by 2020. The bridge was expected to replace the ferry system that currently runs along National Road 1A and would link the Vĩnh Long Province and Cần Thơ city.

The bridge's construction is under the supervision of consultant Nippon Koei-Chodai, which is working with Japanese contractors, including the Taisei Corporation, Kajima Construction and Nippon Steel. Capital for the project is funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, which got an official development assistance loan from the Japan Bank of International Cooperation and the Vietnamese government. Cần Thơ Bridge is insured by the Petrolimex Joint Stock Insurance Company and PetroVietnam Insurance Company for 3.2 trillion Vietnamese đồng (200 million U.S. dollars).

The Cần Thơ Bridge was divided into three contracts and the first approach bridge (the first contract) had the slowest progress. The second contract, the main bridge and approach bridge, and third contract, the southern approach road in Cần Thơ, were reportedly going smoothly under the contractors discretion in 2005.

Collapse

The Cần Thơ Bridge collapsed during construction. The accident occurred at 8 a.m. local time (GMT+7) on the morning of September 26, 2007, when a 90-meter section of an approach ramp, which was more than 30 meters above the ground, collapsed. The collapsed section was above a small island located on the Vinh Long side of the bridge. There were 250 engineers and workers working on and under the span at the time. As of September 27, the number of reported casualties varies, with one source saying 52 people died and 140 were injured. While other sources show that the death toll has reached 59, still others report the number of casualties have reached 64. According to Dr. Trần Chủng, head of the national construction QA/QC authority under the Ministry of Construction, this is the most catastrophic disaster in the history of Vietnam’s construction industry.

Rescue efforts

Immediately following the accident, many workers at the site joined the rescue forces to take the injured out of the debris. Local people, students, and cadres also joined the rescue teams. In addition, Chợ Rẫy Hospital in Hồ Chí Minh City sent two professional rescue teams to the site. All the combined rescue efforts were put under the leadership of Hoàng Trung Hải, Vice Premier of the Government and forces from Ministries of National Defence.

Rescue efforts received international support. The American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam sent its resources located in Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore and Bangkok to Can Tho. The International SOS Alarm Centre and Clinic in Ho Chi Minh City sent a first response team of three doctors, a nurse, an interpreter and operations manager. Rescue efforts were carried out with cranes, not by direct entry of rescue personnel because the remaining part of the ramp was likely to collapse.

Aftermath

In July 2009 the Vietnamese government banned the Taisei and Kajima Construction companies from Vietnam for one year. The government stated that the ban was punishment for the involvement of the two Japanese companies in constructing the bridge support which had collapsed.

Opening

The largest bridge in the region, was completed on April 12 and opened for traffic on April 24, 2010.

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