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French teenager dies and several ‘likely’ missing after bridge collapses into river

A 15-year-old girl died and several people are likely missing after a bridge collapsed into a river in southwestern France on Monday, emergency services said.

The 150 metre-long suspension bridge in Mirepoix-sur-Tarn, near Toulouse, collapsed as a lorry, a car and possibly a van were crossing, the local prosecutor said.

According to local authorities, at least five people were injured, including two firefighters involved in the rescue operation.

Television images showed one car nose-down in the water, with only its rear lights and bumper above the surface.

The mother of the deceased teenager was among three people rescued from the water, the prosecutor added.

The local prefect Etienne Guyot said the full number of casualties was not yet known.

“There are probably several people missing, we can’t yet determine how many,” Guyot told reporters.

“Our priority is to find these people.”

The Environment Ministry said in a statement that the specific causes of the accident were still “unknown.”

The bridge was limited to 19-tonne vehicles. Mirepoix-sur-Tarn-Mayor Eric Oget told French network BFMTV that the lorry may have been above the authorised limit.

“One witness apparently said that a heavyweight was engaged on the bridge. Was this truck weighing more than 19 tonnes? I do not know,” Oget said.

The bridge was inspected every six years and had shown no sign of structural weakness at its last inspection in 2017, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said in a press conference.

Senators last year called for more money to check and repair bridges across France after the collapse of a motorway viaduct in Genoa, Italy, killed 43 people.


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