Bridge break sees tourists dumped into river in Fenghuang

2013-05-01 23:35:43 GMT2013-05-02 07:35:43(Beijing Time)  Global Times

Some 20 tourists were thrown into river after a suspension bridge collapsed late Wednesday near Fenghuang, an ancient town in Hunan Province. Local authorities are still searching the river for survivors, said the county's official Sina Weibo account.

Failure of the bridge piers are being blamed for causing the bridge to tilt throwing the tourists about a meter into the river as they were returning from a campfire party at 9:10 pm, said the Weibo account.

Yang Zhi, a witness who runs the Boyazhai Hotel in the town, told the Global Times that he estimates there were around 200 tourists on the bridge at the time it tilted. "People were crossing the bridge over the Tuojiang River on their way back to the ancient town from Taohua Island," he said.

Local officials said some tourists managed to swim to safety, adding that they were double checking with local accommodation and had not received any reports of missing people, 15 tourists were pulled to the riverbank and the rescue effort was still continuing to ensure they had not missed anyone.

The campfire party, featuring entertainment by the local Miao ethnic minority, is a traditional event that has attracted many tourists. The site is within an 8-minute walk of the ancient town.

Local officials have ordered related businesses to suspend operations for an overall check for potential safety hazards.

The town made headlines in early April after imposing a 148-yuan ($24) entry fee that upset business owners.

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