Montreal, QB Overpass Collapse Kills Five, Oct 2006
OVERPASS COLLAPSE KILLS FIVE.
Montreal, Quebec - Five people have died and another six were injured after a highway overpass collapsed suddenly in the Canadian city of Montreal.
The vast cement structure collapsed in the suburb of Laval, crushing two vehicles and sending four others crashing down.
Quebec transport minister Michel Despres told reporters the overpass was inspected just 40 minutes before it fell, after police received a complaint that it was shedding pieces, one as large as a basketball.
"Somebody from the ministry was on site and picked up the fallen concrete pieces, evaluated the situation, but found nothing to warrant an immediate closure of this overpass," he said.
The structure was also found to be sound when it was inspected in May last year.
Massive cranes and dozens of rescuers have worked through the night to lift the concrete blocks after three lanes of the overpass on Boulevard de la Concorde
connecting Laval to the island of Montreal collapsed at lunchtime.
Search For Answers.
Officials say the reason for the accident
has not been determined, but a public inquiry will be held to search for answers.
"We still cannot explain it," said police spokesman Jayson Gauthier.
"None of our experts know why a young structure, a modern structure like this one fell."
The overpass was built about 30 years ago, he said. As a precaution another nearby bridge built the same year has been closed temporarily and 20 others of a similar design would be inspected over the next 48 hours for possible dangers, he said.
"It fell like a house of cards. It fell literally in two pieces," said Manon Joly, a motorist who barely avoided the accident.
She hit her brakes after seeing a motorcycle disappear in the hole created by the sunken road ahead of her. "That motorcycle saved my life. Otherwise, I would have fallen into the hole," she told public broadcaster Radio-Canada.
Police and fire crews spent hours trying to stabilize the fallen overpass before rescuers could attempt to reach anyone trapped underneath. They only began to cut away and lift huge chunks after dark, under spotlights.
Traffic would now likely be diverted for several months from this major thoroughfare into Montreal, said Michelle Courchesne, the local member of Quebec's national assembly.
A similar accident occurred in 2000 when an overpass under construction near Montreal collapsed, killing one person and injuring two others.
SBS News Article 2006-10-02
GILLES HAMEL, 44.
JEAN-PIERRE HAMEL, 40, his brother.
SYLVIE BEAUDET, 40.
MATHIEU GOYETTE, 28, Lavel.
VERONIQUE BINETTE, 28, Lavel.
CLAUDE BASTIEN, 40, serious condition.
ANNE-MARIE LEBLANC, stable condition.