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Three dead, 12 injured after fallen rock smashes 'lifeline' bridge in Sichuan

THREE people died and 12 others were injured after a fallen rock smashed a bridge early today in southwest China's Wenchuan County, the epicenter of last year's devastating earthquake.

Vehicles plunged into the Minjiang River when the fallen rock from a nearby mountain hit a pier at about 5 a.m., damaging the Chediguan Bridge which they were riding on, said an official with the information center of Wenchuan County, Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture.

At least seven vehicles were destroyed, including six vans and one minibus, said the official, adding that all the injured were sent to hospital.

The Chediguan Bridge is called a lifeline for the reconstruction of Wenchuan.

The bridge is part of the No. 213 national highway, a major traffic line linking Wenchuan to other areas. The highway, which plays a key role in restoring local tourism and production, was interrupted. More than 10,000 vehicles pass the bridge, which reopened to traffic in May, every day.

The accident site is not covered by the communication network, according to the official.

An 8-magnitude earthquake struck Wenchuan County on May 12, 2008, leaving about 87,000 people dead or missing and injuring more than 370,000 others.


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