Chinese official faces trial following bridge collapse

By Richard High12 June 2008

A Chinese road administration official involved in the country's worst bridge collapse last year has appeared in court charged with dereliction of duty and corruption, according to state news agency Xinhua.

Hu Dongsheng, head of the road administration of the Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture of Xiangxi in central Hunan Province, failed to monitor construction of the bridge properly, according to the People's Procuratorate of Youxian County.

Mr Hu was also accused of taking bribes as a former general manager of Fengda Company. According to Xinhua, the bridge "belonged" to Fengda Company, although the main contractor was the provincial Road and Bridge Construction (Group) Ltd. Co. (RBC).

The 328 m long bridge, which was under construction over the Tuojiang River, collapsed on 13 August last year, killing 64 people and injuring another 22, as workers began to remove scaffolding.

Wu Zhihua, former deputy general manager and chief engineer of the RBC, also appeared in court charged with allegedly taking bribes and lowering technical standards on the bridge's main arch without the approval of the designer.

The report also said another 32 officials were "disciplined" for their involvement in the collapse.

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