Drivers rescued as bridge in Norway collapses

The wooden bridge collapsed

A car plunged into the water and a lorry got stuck when a wooden bridge over a river in Norway collapsed on Monday.

The drivers of both vehicles were rescued and doing well, police said.

Police were alerted shortly after 7.30am (5.30am Irish time) that the bridge had collapsed as a lorry and a car were crossing over it.

The car plunged into the river while the lorry remained on the bridge in a nearly vertical position on a collapsed section that was raised at an angle out of the water.

A helicopter assisted the rescue operation and pulled out the lorry driver, police said. The driver of the car managed to get out of his vehicle by himself.

The nearly 150 metre long bridge connects the west bank of the Gudbrandsdalslaagen River and the village of Tretten.

A drone image of the collapsed Tretten bridge

The bridge opened in 2012.

“It is completely catastrophic, completely unreal,” mayor Jon Halvor Midtmageli told the Dabgladet newspaper. “It is also a fairly new bridge.”

“It is completely destroyed, everything has fallen down,” he added.

The Norwegian Automobile Federation said the bridge was checked in 2021, raising concern about the safety of such bridges.

“We who travel on the roads must be able to trust that the bridges are safe to drive on,” the organisation’s spokeswoman Ingunn Handagard told the Norwegian news agency NTB.

The cause of the collapse was not immediately known.

The Norwegian Public Roads Administration said it wanted an independent investigation.

“It must be safe to drive on Norwegian roads. That is why it is important to get to the bottom of this case,” said the administration’s head, Ingrid Dahl Hovland.

Atle Formo, who lives by the Tretten bridge, said he heard “an intense crash”.

“The whole house was shaking. I was rolling up the blinds in the bedroom and looked right at a bridge laying in the river,” he told Norwegian broadcaster TV2.

A similar nearby bridge in Sjoa in the Gudbrand valley, also made of glued laminated timber, collapsed in 2016.

The driver of a lorry who was crossing the bridge at the time was slightly injured.

Following that collapse, 11 similar bridges, including the one in Tretten, were temporarily closed by the government body that is in charge of Norway’s infrastructure.

The agency said in a report about the 2016 collapse that “the direct cause of the bridge collapse is a defective joint in the framework”.

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