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6 die as bridge wrecked by heavy rain rockslide

SIX people were killed early yesterday when huge mountain rocks loosened by heavy continuous rain smashed into a bridge and destroyed it in Wenchuan County of southwest China's Sichuan Province.

Five of the dead have been identified, Wenchuan County Civil Affairs Bureau said yesterday afternoon.

Twelve injured people, five in serious condition, were being treated in Wenchuan County People's Hospital.

Vehicles plunged into the Minjiang River when falling rocks crashed into a pier of the Chediguan Bridge about 5am, destroying the section on which they were travelling, said an information center official of Wenchuan County, Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture.

More than 100 meters of the 300-meter-long bridge collapsed, the official said.

At least seven vehicles were found to have been destroyed, including six trucks and one minibus, said the official.

Rescuers said they were not sure how many vehicles had plunged into the river, but added casualties might still rise if more vehicles were found to have been washed into the river.

The Chediguan Bridge is deemed to be the lifeline for reconstruction works in Wenchuan, the epicenter of last year's devastating earthquake which left about 87,000 people dead or missing.

The bridge is part of the No. 213 national highway, a major traffic line linking Wenchuan with other areas. The highway, which plays a key role in restoring local tourism and production, was interrupted.

More than 10,000 vehicles cross the bridge every day, which reopened to traffic in May.


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