Weather forecasts of heavy rain for the next few days were adding to the drama around the collapse of a bridge over a wide river in southern Norway on Monday. Rushing water may send portions of the bridge on a dangerous journey downstream, while other portions have blocked the main E6 highway through the area.
The large and relatively new wooden bridge at Tretten, just north of Lillehammer, suddenly collapsed Monday morning while a large truck and a car were crossing it. The driver of the truck had to be airlifted out of the truck’s cab by helicopter, while the driver of a car that was right behind the truck managed to escape from it as the river’s cold waters rose over the hood.
“I knew I had to get out of the car and back to land,” Mari Slåen, age 24 from Gausdal, told state broadcaster NRK. She climbed onto the broken bridge, was not physically injured, and crawled her way to safety “but I was in shock. I just stood there shaking.” Another car and a bus had managed to shift into reverse and get off the bridge before it completely collapsed.
NRK reported that the bridge that spanned both the river and the E6 highway below had been checked as recently as June. An external investigation into the cause of the collapse is now underway, while authorities raced to try to secure the bridge’s remnants before heavy rains start to fall. Neither police nor highway authorities could say when the E6, the main highway through the entire country, could reopen. Heavy transport was being diverted to Highway 3 through the adjacent valley of Østerdalen, while other traffic now must run through the town of Tretten itself.
See dramatic photos and video from NRK here (external link, all text in Norwegian).