4 die in Bohol bridge collapse
LOAY, BOHOL — Newly married Austrian couple Michael and Julia Ouschan were on their way back to their hotel in Panglao town, Bohol, after driving around the province when tragedy struck on Wednesday afternoon.
Their rented car was among the vehicles that fell into Loboc River when the old Loay Bridge collapsed past 4 p.m.
Michael was among the four people who died in the tragedy that also injured 23 others. The other fatalities were Arnes Silos of Dauis town, Emilia Gemina of Villampia town and Epifhany Carmee Oñada of Tagbilaran City.
Gov. Arthur Yap said the Austrian Embassy in Manila had been informed about the death of Michael.
“It’s a sad day for Loay and Bohol,” said Mayor Hilario Ayuban Jr.
Police said the Ouschans, who were in Bohol for their honeymoon, rented a car and toured the province. They were already on their way back to their hotel in Panglao when the accident happened.
Julia survived after her husband pushed her out of their submerged car. Michael, however, failed to get out of the vehicle.
Julia was inconsolable after rescuers recovered Michael’s body past 7 p.m.
Oñada, 29, was with his friends on board another vehicle and on their way home after putting up campaign posters of a senatorial candidate. His friends tried to get him out of the vehicle until they ran out of breath.
According to Anthony Damalerio, provincial disaster risk reduction and management officer, O.B. Clarin Sr. Bridge, commonly called Clarin Bridge, collapsed into the 8-meter deep Loboc River due to overloading and the condition of the structure, which was built in the 1970s. It linked Barangays Villampia and Poblacion Ubos in Loay.
Six cars, three tricycles, a dump truck and two motorcycles were on the bridge when the accident happened.
Damalerio said the bridge collapsed when a dump truck, which carried “anapog” (limestone), reached the middle section of the structure, citing accounts by Jury Namboc, who was working in another bridge which was being constructed to replace the old one.
The new bridge, worth P465 million, was expected to be completed within the year. But apparently due to the accident, the new bridge would be opened on May 3, according to Magiting Cruz, district engineer of the Department of Public Works and Highways’ (DPWH) third engineering office here.
According to Ayuban, the DPWH allows vehicles to pass through the old bridge while the replacement bridge is being constructed.
Liberato Lupot Jr., dean of the College of Engineering and Technology at BIT International College here, said Clarin Bridge was a single-span bridge with no intermediate column in the middle.
Lupot, a professor on bridge engineering, said single-span bridges were safe as long as these met the standards.
“Vehicle overloading damages road surfaces and causes fractures in bridges, greatly shortening the service life of roads. Heavy load causes metal fatigue aside from oxidation or rusting,” he said.
What happened to Clarin Bridge, he said, was a “total rupture.”
Constructed in the 1970s, the bridge had undergone retrofitting after a 7.2-magnitude quake hit Bohol in 2013.
The lifespan of a steel bridge, Lupot said, is 50 to 60 years, shorter than that of a concrete bridge which could last for 100 years.
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