1931 Suspension Bridge over the River Tarn Collapses after Overweight Truck Crosses It. Many People Missing
TOULOUSE, FRANCE- Police investigators are looking into the causes of the collapse of a suspension bridge, which spanned the River Tarn between the towns of Mirepoix-sur-Tarn and Bessières, located 18 miles (35 kilometers) north of Toulouse in southwestern France. The collapse happened yesterday morning at around 8:35am, sending at least two vehicles into the rushing waters of the Tarn. A 15-year old girl was killed on the wreck, her body was found downstream from the wreckage. She was the passenger of the car driven by her mother, which fell in. The mother was pulled out of the wreck by locals. Also killed was a 39-year old truck driver, who was also on the bridge at the time of the collapse. Five people were reported injured; three of which during the rescue operations. Officials still fear many more missing and search crews are scouting the scene to find potential bodies, etc. Eyewitnesses saw the bridge collapse shortly after an overweight truck had crossed the structure. The 155 meter long suspension bridge had a weight limit of 19 tons and the latest inspection reports (2017) revealed no structural defects. Charges against the driver of the truck are pending.
A video below shows the wreckage of the bridge and the rushing waters of the River Tarn. Basically, the suspender cables, which connected the main cables with the trussed roadway snapped, sending the roadway into the river.
The suspension bridge itself was built in 1931 by the engineering firm Baudin Chateauneuf, which specialized in constructing viaducts and major crossings in France. Its predecessor was an 1800s suspension bridge with arched towers. It was destroyed in a flood in 1930. Like its predecessor, the suspension bridge has wired cables and used to have suspenders that supported the roadway. The decking was supported with subdivided Warren pony trusses. It was last renovated in 2003. The bridge was a local favorite for the communities and was a key crossing, yet concerns came about regarding its stability because of increasing numbers of vehicles crossing it, some of which exceed the 19 ton weight mimit. The roadway was only 7 meters wide (20 feet).
It’s unknown whether the bridge will be rebuilt. It’s currently blocked off on both sides and an inspection report will need to be carried out to determine its salvageability. More details to come in the Chronicles via its facebook and twitter pages.