5 hurt as 40m-long top crashes onto road

5 hurt as 40m-long top crashes onto road

MALAYSIA - The 40m-long roof of a pedestrian bridge in Johor gave way during a thunderstorm, injuring five people.

A driver, who wanted to be known only as Tan, in his 30s, said he was on Johor Baru's Pasir Gudang Highway, heading towards Tampoi to pick up his wife at 4.30pm on Sunday.

"I heard a loud bang, and the next thing I knew, something heavy had fallen on my car roof, narrowly missing my head.

"Then I saw the whole roof of the bridge in front of me, and I quickly broke my car window to escape," he told The Star.

The damaged top blocked the road, causing a congestion which lasted three hours, cutting off traffic to Pasir Gudang and Skudai. Johor Baru City Council engineering department director Sulaiman Mohamad Taib said about 25 personnel from various government agencies were rushed to the scene to clear the debris.

"The 40m-long bridge rooftop flew about 50m away from its foundation due to a storm that hit several areas in the state," he said, adding that the bridge was built in 2008.

Losses due to the damaged bridge were estimated at RM100,000 (S$39,000).

Johor Public Works, Rural and Regional Development exco Hasni Mohammad said the incident was the first of its kind in the state.

"A large billboard which was installed on the bridge could have contributed to the collapse.

Safety Checks

"We estimate that about RM300,000 will be needed to rebuild it. The bridge had undergone two safety checks every year," he added. Universiti Teknologi Malaysia construction research centre director Mahmood Md Tahir questioned the presence of a billboard on the rooftop of the bridge.

He said: "There was no support at the back of the billboard, plus with pressure coming from the wind, it would surely collapse.

"The engineer of the bridge should have taken into consideration the pressure from the wind that hit the billboard."

Mr Hasni said the authorities will check similar bridges in the state to ensure such incidents do not happen again.

This article was first published on October 14, 2014.
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