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National highway to quake zone resumes traffic
Updated: 2009-07-31 17:11

WENCHUAN, Sichuan: A national highway to Wenchuan of southwest China's Sichuan Province, the epicenter of last year's magnitude-8 quake, resumed traffic on Friday, after five days of suspension because of rock and mudslides.

Workers have built an embankment to support a damaged section of the Chediguan Bridge, considered by locals a vital lifeline for the reconstruction of Wenchuan, said Yang Yong, assistant chief engineer at the Sichuan Dujiangyan-Wenchuan Highway Co. Ltd. The quake left about 87,000 people dead last year.

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Heavy rains hit the region last week, triggering floods, landslides and mudslides. When huge rocks hit and broke a bridge support on Minjiang River about 5 a.m. Saturday, seven vehicles on the bridge at the time plunged into the river. Rescuers have found six bodies in the debris.

Yang, an engineer, said more than 100 meters of the 300-meter bridge collapsed.

"Workers used heavy machinery to infill 40,000 cubic meters of earth in the collapsed part to allow resumption of traffic. In the next stage, they will reinforce the bridge supports, and open sections of the road damaged in the disaster," he said.

The bridge, reopened to traffic in May after the earthquake, is part of the No. 213 national highway, Wenchuan's major road traffic link to the outside world. More than 10,000 vehicles cross the bridge every day.