From: Reuters
Published December 25, 2007 10:39 AM

Nepal bridge collapse kills 13, many missing

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - At least 13 people, mostly women and children, were killed and scores are missing in Nepal on Tuesday after a suspension bridge collapsed into a river in the west of the Himalayan country, police said.

The villagers were crossing the Bheri river to attend a religious fair near Chhinchu village, 320 km (200 miles) west of Kathmandu, when the bridge collapsed, a police officer said.

"We have recovered 13 bodies from the site and rescued 32 people who were rushed to a hospital here," police officer Madhav Rijal said from Surkhet, the biggest city in the region.

The victims included four children and seven women, he said.

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Earlier reports had said up to 200 people might have gone missing in the wintry cold waters. But Rijal said the number of unaccounted people was not clear.

Another official said many people swam to safety and could have returned home without reporting to police.

Rescue work slowed down after sunset and would resume on Wednesday, he said.

Authorities said one of the supporting pillars of the crowded bridge may have given away, causing the disaster.

Poorly maintained suspension bridges over Himalayan rivers connect remote villages in the mountainous country that does not have a good road network in the countryside.

(Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Y.P. Rajesh and Matthew Jones)

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