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Bridge collapse in Peru kills school children

A SUSPENSION bridge packed with children snapped in Peru on Monday, killing at least nine people and injuring dozens of others who plunged into a deep ravine, the mayor of the Andean mountain town of Coracora said.

"We've suffered a grave accident, a suspension bridge that goes to a high school has fallen, it has broken in two and we have a large number of students injured and dead," Mayor Walter Antayhua told local RPP radio.

Most of the injured were aged 10 and 13, and two of the dead were teachers, the health ministry said.

The bridge was 40 meters long and stretched above a canyon that is up to 98 meters deep, the mayor said. The town is about 600 kilometers southeast of Lima, the capital.

"We need a helicopter because there are children who are dying," Alfonso Paredes, a town resident, said from the town's poorly equipped hospital. Helicopters were sent to the town but could not land because of bad weather. The government was flying in trauma surgeons yesterday.

At least 53 victims were taken to the hospital, 14 of them with serious injuries.

Suspension bridges woven from ropes were built during the Incan empire to move between steep Andean hillsides.

They are now often made of metal cables lashed to cement posts and are widely used in mountain towns in Peru.


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