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February 23, 2011

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3 killed in 27 vehicle pile-up on bridge

THREE people were killed and 15 injured in a pile-up involving 27 vehicles in heavy fog on Donghai Bridge early yesterday.

Most of the vehicles involved were container trucks and the dead included two truck drivers and a bus driver. The injured were in stable condition in local hospitals, authorities said.

Traffic on the bridge, which links downtown Shanghai to Yangshan Deep Water Port, was disrupted all morning, police said.

Thick fog, the worst in six months, was the main cause of the accident at around 6.50am, said authorities.

Six vehicles traveling towards Yangshan on the 32.5 kilometer bridge first piled up, police said. A witness said a car and a vegetable van first collided.

"It was too late for me to react, even when I saw the vehicles ahead," said Yang Zhihua, a container truck driver, who, along with his brother, was injured in the accident.

Yang said he braked "three to four times but still hit the vehicles that had already piled up." He said he lost consciousness for about two minutes.

In total, 27 vehicles were involved in the pile-up, the authorities said.

"I was suddenly thrown from my seat," said an injured man, surnamed Wang, who had been sleeping in a shuttle bus on the way to work at Yangshan.

Emergency services closed the bridge as they worked to rescue trapped drivers and passengers Delayed vehicles lined up for several kilometers along the bridge and hundreds more were stranded at ramps leading on to it.

Yang's brother was cut free from their damaged vehicle by rescuers. Yang said they waited an hour for ambulances after being rescued, as emergency services were also affected by blocked access.

Police helicopters hovered above the bridge but did not join the rescue as the fog was too thick.

Most of the injured were later sent to a hospital in Nanhui, Pudong New Area. Some suffered broken bones while others have scratches and cuts. Sources said all the injured were males aged between 24 and 50.

Traffic did not begin flowing again until noon, and then with a reduced speed limit, the authorities said,

The maritime authority based at Yangshan said visibility was less than 100 meters, and the fog the worst in six months. Some 18 international vessels remained at anchor and 30 ferry services were canceled.

Police at Pudong's Waigaoqiao port said visibility was 50 meters.


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