(29 April) The “Bicentennial Bridge” or the Ratanakosin Bridge in Ayutthaya province collapsed yesterday (28 April) and fell to the Pasak River below, resulting in 4 deaths, including a 10 year old child, and injuring many more.
Police major general Kornake Petchaiwes opened an impromptu aid center at the scene of the accident for reports of missing persons and questioning witnesses.
Mr.Sompong Boonlert, 50, shares his account of the events, saying that before the bridge collapsed, he and his wife were crossing on a motorcycle. There were about 5 motorcycles going both ways and he noticed that the bridge was lopsided even though he did not
accelerate his speed.
Then, Mr. Sompong said, he heard a thundering sound and he didn’t dare look back. He went straight home and when he had collected himself, he came back to the scene of the accident. The bridge was already gone and there were many people crying in pain and trying to get out of the water.
The bridge was 2.2 metres wide and 110 metres in length, according to the Office of Public Works and Town Planning of Ayutthaya. The budget of construction and repair was 8.29 million baht. Currently, the search for missing persons have ceased due to the threat of the stanchion of the bridge breaking. The search will continue tomorrow, with the help of the military.
Officials said the province will take money from the disaster relief fund to pay reparations to victims for funeral expenses of 25,000 baht per victim. The province will also pay for any medical bills.
Reports said 2 sets of committees would be established to investigate the facts for civil and criminal liability and to assist victims in terms of litigation and healthcare. It is still unclear whether the bridge will be restored or a new bridge will be built in a different location.
Locals expressed that the bridge has begun to sink and tilt about a week ago and they have notified the authorities, but no one showed up.
Mr.Cheta Patumrungsee, chairman of the Tharua District council expresses his apologies to the locals and vows to aid the victims as fast as possible, stating that the bridge should be able to carry up to 4 tons of weight. Its collapse will warrant a thorough investigation on the state of the bridge and a new budget is to be approved for a new bridge.
Mr.Thanet Weerasiri, Secretary of the Engineering Institute of Thailand, with a crew of engineers thoroughly investigated the collapsed bridge. Mr.Thanet states that the collapse did not derive from the structure of the bridge, but from the breakage of the cables.
However, Mr Thanet said the precise cause of the breakage could not yet be determined. For now, the remaining cable is to be cut since it may cause further damage.