One Man Dies, Another Missing in Irrawaddy Bridge Collapse

By Salai Thant Zin 2 April 2018

PATHEIN, Irrawaddy Region — One man was killed and another is missing after a suspension bridge in Irrawaddy Region’s Myaungmya Township collapsed early Sunday.

The entire bridge fell into the river as a truck carrying the two men attempted to cross it in the early hours of Sunday.

The body of the truck driver, Ko Than Zaw Htike (aka Mae Gyi), was found around 4 p.m. on Sunday, while truck owner Ko Aung Gyi was still missing as rescue workers continued their search on Monday. Both of the men were Myaungmya residents.

“The truck was a six-wheeled vehicle and was carrying chicken feed when the accident happened at around 1:15 a.m. on Sunday. Steel suspension cables on the Myaungmya side broke and collapsed into river,” lawmaker U Thant Zaw Win of Irrawaddy regional parliament from Myaungmya Township told The Irrawaddy.

The bridge was a main transportation hub linking Myaungmya and Labutta townships with Pathein and Yangon. The collapse has halted the flow of commodities as well as transportation between Labutta and Myaungmya.

“The bridge had to be repaired some two years ago after steel cables broke. I heard that major repairs were made twice in 2016 and 2017, respectively. But why did the whole bridge collapse now?” asked Myaungmya resident U Kyaw Win. “It’s lucky that the truck was carrying only two people. What if it were a passenger bus?”

Irrawaddy Region Transport Minister U Win Htay said the bridge was built in 1996 and had been under repair and maintenance. “For the time being, we have arranged three big boats that can carry cars across the river,” he said.

The bridge was opened to the public on March 27, 1996, and after its strength was found to have weakened significantly over the past few years, the gross weight limit for trucks was reduced to 20 tons.

Last year, the Parliament approved Myaungmya Township lawmaker Dr. Soe Moe Thu’s proposal to build a new bridge in Myaungmya at a cost of over 6 billion kyats. The lawmaker said that the bridge had suffered structural damage as a result of overweight aid convoys crossed the bridge in the aftermath of Nargis storm in 2008.

Construction of a new bridge started late last year and is scheduled for completion in 2020. Before then the regional government will arrange large boats for travelers and vehicles.