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Compensation for viaduct collapse

THE families of the fatal victims of Sunday's viaduct collapse in central China's Hunann Province will each be paid 200,000 yuan (US$29,296.4) compensation from the local government.

The city government of Zhuzhou plans to offer the money today, The Beijing News reported.

Nine people died and 16 were injured when a 200-meter stretch of the viaduct collapsed on Sunday afternoon in downtown Zhuzhou. Twenty-four vehicles were destroyed.

Rescue operations were called off yesterday after all the bodies were recovered.

Police are still investigating the cause of the accident and 12 people have been placed under surveillance, the authority said. Prosecutors of Zhuzhou City and Hetang District are involved in the investigation.

Police are working to identify the nine people who were killed, according to The Beijing News report.

Three victims have been identified so far: migrant worker Li Xuefeng, 46, from Hunan's Yiyang, Zhuzhou police officer Chen Zhiming, 35, and his 7-year-old daughter. Rescuers found Chen's body hugging his daughter's body in the debris. Chen's wife was injured and is in hospital.

A bus driver has been given a 10,000 yuan reward by his company for saving 10-plus passengers just before the collapse, Xinhua news agency reported.

The driver surnamed Li said he was driving the No. 41 bus on the afternoon. Seeing the viaduct abnormally shaking, he suggested the passengers might want to get off the bus, saying a major traffic jam may cause a delay.

"I was then sitting alone on the bus when I saw the viaduct suddenly collapse," he said.

Li jumped out and watched the left hand side of the bus where he had been sitting being crushed by the collapsing viaduct.

The viaduct, which was opened in 1995, was 2,750 meters long and eight meters tall. Because it spanned the bustling Hongqi Square and was causing traffic congestion, the city government closed it on May 5. It was due to be demolished tomorrow.


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