Ship hits bridge in northern Vietnam; collapse risks mounting

By Vu Ngoc Khanh, Thanh Nien News

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A bridge in the northern province of Hai Duong is under serious threat of collapse after a 3,200-ton ship got stuck under it, leaving dangerous cracks that can become even bigger if the vessel is removed.
The cargo vessel of 50 meters long struck the An Thai Bridge on Sunday afternoon. No one was hurt in the collision. 
It has left cracks of more than ten meters long on one side of the span. Concrete is falling apart at some portion, exposing the iron frame of the two-lane bridge.
The 290-meter structure, built in the late 1990s, crosses the Kinh Mon River and connects Hai Duong Province with Hai Phong City and Quang Ninh Province, home of Ha Long Bay. 
Le Dinh Long, director of Hai Duong’s transport department, said it has not figured out how to save the bridge.
The boat will have to stay still at the moment as a support for the bridge, which may collapse if the boat is removed, Long said.
A cargo vessel has caused cracks along the An Thai Bridge in Hai Duong Province after ramming into it on March 6. Photos: Vu Ngoc Khanh
The boat was driven by a 39-year-old captain when it hit the bridge.
 Workers and local officials have not figured out a way to remove the boat while still keeping the bridge safe.
 Police have blocked traffic along the bridge, which is 38 kilometers from Hai Duong downtown and is on one of the busiest routes in the province.
The rescue mission draws a lot of public interest.
People now have to pay VND15,000 each for a boat trip to cross the river.
 Officials said they may pump water into the boat during high tides so that it will go lower and not raise the bridge.

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