Two found dead after bridge collapse

Emergency crews worked into the night in the hopes of rescuing the occupants of a vehicle found under the rubble of a collapsed bridge in Trondheim Wednesday afternoon. They eventually were able to extract the driver of the car, who was dead, and later also found the body of one of the bridge’s construction workers.

The bridge, part of the busy E6 highway through Trondheim, was under construction as part of an expansion of the highway in a heavily trafficked area. It suddenly collapsed around 2:30pm, trapping the car and others working on the road construction project.

Police said on Thursday that a total of nine persons had been rushed to hospital. Some were released with minor injuries but St Olavs Hospital admitted five with more serious injuries.

The bridge collapse sparked an enormous emergency response with police, dog teams trained to find victims, fire fighters and ambulance personnel taking part in rescue efforts. They also used  construction equipment to sort through the collapsed mounds of concrete and metal that crashed down to the road below, between Lade and the IKEA shopping center at Leangen in Trondheim.

For photos of the bridge collapse from Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), click here (external link, in Norwegian).

Arnt Harald Aaslund of the Sør-Trondelag Police District told NRK that it was extremely difficult to reach the victim trapped in the vehicle and the construction worker who’d been reported missing.

“We had a good idea of where he was when the bridge collapsed, both through the use of the dogs and witness observations, but it was an intricate procedure to get him out,” Aaslund told NRK. He was pinned under mounds of cement and Aaslund said it was “demanding work” for emergency personnel to extract his body.

Victims families have been notified and were getting help from crisis teams on Thursday, which is the national Ascension Day holiday in Norway. Rescue workers also assembled at a hotel in Trondheim for a debriefing and counseling from crisis teams. The scene of the accident was cordoned off and under guard, but no further investigation or work to clean up the site would take place on Thursday.

“It’s a holiday and those involved (in rescue operations) have gone through a major ordeal, the rescue workers have seen things far above what’s considered normal,” Aaslund told NRK. “We have guards at the site, then we’ll have a meeting on Friday about how to proceed.”

Six of those working for construction company Reinertsen were injured in the collapse. The worker found dead was employed by a subcontractor. Tedd Årnes, director of the Reinertsen project, said a total of 15 persons were working on the bridge when it collapsed. The company has also set up a crisis team for its employees and families. The cause of the collapse had not yet been established.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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