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River project blamed for bridge collapse

More disasters waiting to happen due to flawed government project, says priest

The broken railway bridge at Waegwan The broken railway bridge at Waegwan
  • ucanews.com reporter, Seoul
  • Korea
  • June 27, 2011
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The collapse of a historic bridge at the weekend was a warning that even bigger disasters lie ahead as a result of the government’s Four River’s project, a Catholic environment-activist priest warned yesterday.

On June 25, an old railway bridge in Waegwan, Gyeongsangbuk-do province, collapsed into the Nakdong-gang river.

Nobody was injured in the collapse, which took place just before dawn.

The 469-meter span had been used as a footbridge since its restoration after it was damaged during the Korean War (1950-53).

Environmentalist groups and media reports said the river project had seen the dredging of the river bottom, but the legs of the bridge has not been reinforced adequately against faster river currents.

Father Simeon Park Chang-kyun, from the Nakdong-gang branch of the Catholic Solidarity for Deterrence of Four Major Rivers Project, said that the collapse was a "direct result" of the government project.

"More and bigger disasters will occur such as the collapse of river banks and bridges as a result stronger currents in deeply dredged rivers," he predicted.

Nakdong-gang river is one of South Korea’s four major rivers.

The Busan Regional Construction Management Administration said the river was flowing faster because of recent heavy rains and pledged to rebuild the bridge.

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