Latin America & Caribbean

Colombia suspension bridge collapse kills at least 11

Picture by the National Disaster Risk Management Unit shows ambulances and onlookers near the site of the bridge collapse Image copyright National Disaster Risk Management Unit
Image caption The bridge was a popular attraction with locals who were enjoying a long weekend

A suspension bridge in Colombia has collapsed, killing at least 11 people and injuring several others near the city of Villavicencio, south-east of the capital, Bogota.

Pictures show the structure, made of boards and rope, dangling on its side.

Eyewitnesses said one of the ropes had snapped as more than two dozen people were crossing the bridge.

Some managed to hold on, but many others, including young children, fell into the ravine below.

'Accident waiting to happen'

The bridge was strung across a canyon at a height of about 10m (33ft) but the steepness of the hill meant that some of those who fell tumbled much further down its side.

Hilton Gutierrez of the mayor's office in nearby Villavicencio said that the collapse was due to excess weight.

He said that close to 30 people were on the bridge and that some of them were leaning over one side when a rope snapped, leaving the bridge lopsided.

An eyewitness told local news site Enterate Villavo that a local shop charged 2,000 pesos ($0.70; £0.55) to cross the bridge but that there was no one monitoring the number of people using it at any given time.

Another woman told local media that the bridge was "an accident waiting to happen".

She said she could see from below that the boards of the bridge were rotten and that some were missing altogether.

Photos posted by locals to Enterate Villavo's Facebook site show boards covered in moss and some poorly secured ropes.

It was one of several privately-built bridges in the forest reserve of El Carmen and had become a popular destination for people from Villavicencio on a day out.

As Monday was a public holiday, the place was particularly busy with families trekking to a local waterfall.

Villavicencio Mayor Wilmar Barbosa said an investigation was under way to find out who was responsible for the upkeep of the bridge.

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