Bridge collapses on major highway in Washington state | News | DW | 24.05.2013
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Bridge collapses on major highway in Washington state

The major highway bridge connecting Seattle with Canada, and the rest of the US Pacific Northwest region, has collapsed. Several cars were thrown into the river below injuring three people.

A four-lane bridge spanning the Skagit River along Interstate 5 between the towns of Burlington and Mt. Vernon collapsed at 7:00 p.m. Thursday evening (local time), tossing cars and passengers into the water.

Three people were injured but there were no fatalities in the incident, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

The cause of the collapse is still unclear, however the state Transportation Department said it was investigating whether an oversize truck load may have hit the bridge.

Helicopter footage from broadcaster KOMO-TV in Seattle showed one rescue boat leaving the scene with a person strapped to a stretcher. A damaged car and pickup truck were also visible in the water.

Tyler Satterlund, who was at the scene, described the collapse to DW, "It’s a good chunk so it’s just gone. It looks like it just fell off,” he said, adding that he saw a boat of rescue divers arrive at the scene.

Burlington lies approximately 76 km (47 miles) south of the Canadian border in the northwest corner of Washington State.

Interstate 5 has been closed down in both directions, with traffic being rerouted on local roads.

Some 70,000 people drive across the bridge every day.

The steel bridge was built in 1955 and was given a C in the American Society of Civil Engineers' 2013 infrastructure report card and a C- when it came to state's bridges.

According to the group, a quarter of Washington's 7,840 bridges are considered structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

dr/hc (AP, dpa)