Summarized by Kent Larsen
Two Buses of LDS Members, Missionaries Were On Bridge That Collapsed
Honduras This Week 13Mar00 D1
By W.E. Gutman
TEGUCIGALPA, HONDURAS -- A temporary Bailey-type bridge connecting
the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa with its sister city, Comayaguela,
collapsed early in March, endangering 98 LDS Church members and
missionaries on two buses on the bridge. The bridge, constructed by
the U.S. military last year to replace the Juan Ramon Molina bridge
washed away by Hurricane Mitch, collapsed as the busses, two trucks,
a taxi, a pick-up truck and a jeep combined to exceed the 40-ton
weight limit on the bridge by 20 tons.
Police Sargeant Rafel Jimenez described the collapse. "The bridge was
swaying like a hammock. People were crawling out of their vehicles,
screaming. If the bridge had collapsed minutes later, there would
have been many victims, many dead." Fortunately, no one died in the
bridge collapse. 19 were wounded and were transported to the Escuela
Hospital, where all were recorded in satisfactory condition. Honduran
President Carlos Roberto Flores visited the wounded at the hospital.
The two buses of LDS Church members, including 8 missionaries from
both the U.S. and from Central America were headed for Juticalpa,
Olancho, a city located about 100 miles from Tegucigalpa. The report
doesn't say why the buses where headed there.
News reports noted that the concrete-embedded anchors at the ends of
the bridge were buried less than 1 1/2 feet deep in unstable earth,
hinting that this may have contributed to the bridge's collapse. The
U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa has expressed the U.S. Government's
regret for the accident, blaming it on excess weight on the bridge.
Meanwhile, Japanese Ambassador Masateru Ito announced that Japan
would build a permanent bridge on the site begining in September.