Too-Heavy Truck 'Apparent' Cause of Deadly French Bridge Collapse
A truck weighing over twice the maximum limit probably caused the deadly collapse of a bridge across a river in southwest France, the prosecutor leading the investigation said Tuesday.
The bridge detached from suspension cables on Monday and plunged into the river Tarn, causing the deaths of the truck driver and a 15-year-old girl.
The truck weighed more than 50 tonnes, over double the bridge's weight limit of 19 tonnes, prosecutor Dominique Alzeari told a press conference.
"The fact that this heavy vehicle took the bridge... currently seems to be the immediate and apparent cause of the accident," Alzeari said.
The bridge between the towns of Mirepoix-sur-Tarn and Bessieres, north of Toulouse, was built in 1931 and had passed recent safety inspections.
A sign at the entrance stipulated its load capacity.
The driver of the articulated truck, which was transporting drilling equipment, was the owner of a drilling company located a few hundred meters from the bridge.
As the bridge buckled, both the truck and a car in which a mother and daughter were travelling were tipped into the water.
Bystanders managed to rescue the injured mother but could not reach the girl nor the truck driver.
France's junior environment minister Emmanuelle Wargon had earlier confirmed that "one of the theories is that truck went on the bridge with a weight exceeding the maximum".
The accident put the issue of bridge safety back into the spotlight, a year after the collapse of a motorway bridge in the Italian city of Genoa in August 2018, which left 43 people dead.
An audit of France's bridges commissioned by the Senate in the wake of the Genoa disaster called for major investments to avoid a similar tragedy in France.
Wargon said the state would help local authorities upgrade bridges "on a case-by-case basis."