Norway bridge collapses, drivers of 2 vehicles rescued

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A view of a bridge that has collapsed over the River Laagen, in Gudbrandsdalen, Norway, Monday, Aug. 15, 2022. A wooden bridge over a river in southern Norway has collapsed with a car plunging into the water and a truck getting stuck on a collapsed section. Police said the drivers of both vehicles were rescued and doing well. (Geir Olsen/NTB Scanpix via AP)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A wooden bridge over a river in southern Norway collapsed early Monday, with a car plunging into the water and a truck getting stuck on a raised section. The drivers of both vehicles were rescued and doing well, police said.

Police were alerted shortly after 7:30 a.m. (0530 GMT; 1:30 a.m. EDT) that the bridge had collapsed as a truck and a car were crossing over it. The cause wasn’t immediately known.

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

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

The nearly 150-meter-long (500-foot-long) bridge connects the west bank of the Gudbrandsdalslaagen River and the village of Tretten. The bridge opened in 2012.

“It is completely catastrophic, completely unreal,” local 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 organization’s spokeswoman, Ingunn Handagard, told the Norwegian news agency NTB.

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 truck who was crossing the bridge at the time of the collapse was slightly injured.

Following that collapse, 11 similar bridges, including the one in Tretten, were temporarily closed by the Norwegian Public Roads Administration. 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.”

Norwegian transportation minister Jon-Ivar Nygård was due to visit the site of the latest bridge collapse later Monday.

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