RIO DE JANEIRO: At least seven people died when a bridge crumbled down in Rio Grande do Sul state, southern Brazil, on Tuesday morning, local authorities said.
The bridge over the Jacui River is located between the municipalities of Agudo and Restinga Seca, in the state's central region, and is 314 meters long. According to the local authorities, about 80 to 100 meters of the bridge fell into the river and the rest of the construction was blocked because it may crumble down as well.
The authorities believe that the accident may have been caused by the strong current of the Jacui River, whose water level is above the normal point because of the rain. For that reason, a second bridge over the river was also blocked from traffic.
About 30 people are estimated to having been at the bridge at the time of the accident; vehicles were carried out by the strong current of the Jacui River.
Rescue teams and volunteers are still searching for survivors and bodies, with the help of eight boats and four helicopters. At least 11 people were rescued from the river, but the strong current is making the search difficult.
About 20 people remain missing, including the Vice-Mayor of the town of Agudo, Hilberto Boeck.
The recent rains have affected a total of 32 municipalities in Rio Grande do Sul. Over 1,000 people had to leave their homes in the state.