Thursday, June 6, 2013

Penang bridge ramp collapse: Rescuers struggle to get to crushed car

Police start to cordon off about 700m along the coastal highway to the site where the ramp collapsed. Heavy presence of policemen, firemen along with construction workers clearing the rubble with sound of drilling and sawing of metal.

GEORGE TOWN: Search teams are cutting through huge steel and concrete beams to get to a car crushed after an uncompleted ramp of a flyover connecting the still-under-construction second Penang bridge at Batu Maung collapsed at 7pm Thursday.

Two cranes are lifting huge chunks of rubble linked to twisted steel beams that have to be cut carefully with rescuers warned to be mindful of their own safety.

Police said the rescue teams' bid to get closer to the car was hampered by the overlapping collapsed beams. The number of people in the car is yet to be determined.

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Friday morning traffic in the area has become congested as people headed for work to the factories in the industrial area.

Construction work was halted to facilitate investigation and the entry and exit routes to the area remain closed to all vehicles.

Three people were hurt by falling concrete and steel girders when the interchange ramp of the Second Penang Bridge collapsed.

Two of the victims were construction workers Slamat, 36, from Indonesia and Tin Maung Iwin, 39, from Myanmar.

Both were admitted to Penang Hospital and reported to be in stable condition.

Penang deputy police chief Datuk Abdul Rahim Jaafar said Thursday night that the foreign workers were working at the project site when the incident occurred.

The other person hurt was Thilasheni Rajendran, 24, who was hit by falling debris.

Thilasheni, who was driving, managed to stop her car about two metres away from the scene of the collapse.

Her friend Gajashaantini Gajanujan, 24, who also was in the car escaped unhurt.

Abdul Rahim said over 300 firemen and policemen were searching for victims in the car buried in the rubble.

Abdul Rahim said the rescuers were forced to use bigger cranes when the cranes supplied by the construction company failed to lift the concrete.

A spokesman for Jambatan Kedua Sdn Bhd (JKSB) said the collapse in Lebuhraya Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu near Batu Maung is under investigation.

The bridge exit route project is implemented by Cergas Murni Sdn Bhd. JKSB said it will issue an official statement Friday.

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