BOGOTA – At least nine people died on Monday when a suspension bridge under construction on the highway between Bogota and Villavicencio, the capital of Colombia’s Meta province, collapsed, authorities said, adding that five people were injured in the mishap.
The coordinator of Meta province’s Disaster Risk Management Advisory Department, Reinaldo Romero Silva, confirmed to EFE the number of dead and said that apparently all those in the vicinity of the accident had been accounted for.
The accident occurred in the Chirajara sector, a very mountainous zone along the 120-kilometer (75-mile) stretch of roadway that includes dozens of bridges and tunnels due to the complicated terrain.
The bridge over a gorge at Kilometer 64 collapsed for “as yet unknown reasons” that will be investigated, said Coviandes, the company tasked with building the section of roadway in question.
The National Infrastructure Agency (ANI) said in a statement that “once the official reports are received from Coviandes ... about the causes of the tragedy, the Agency will inform the general public.”
According to Coviandes, firefighters were dispatched to the scene from Villavicencio and the towns of Guayabetal and Caqueza, and the injured were taken to hospitals in the larger city.
The president of ANI traveled to the accident site “to meet with Coviandes representatives” and emergency organizations “at the request of (Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos) and the Transportation Ministry,” the agency said.
The Chirajara suspension bridge is 446 meters (1,463 feet) in length, and photos show that the central section fell into the gorge.
Local media reported that the section of roadway is being built at a height of more than 280 meters (about 920 feet) and was scheduled for completion in late March.