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River project blamed for bridge collapse

 SEOUL (UCAN): The collapse of an historic railway bridge at Waegwan, in the province of Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea, on June 25 is being interpreted as a warning that even bigger disasters may lie ahead as a result of the much criticised, pet Four River’s Dam Project of the current president, Lee Myung Park.

The 469-metre steel span of the bridge snapped in the middle, causing the two sides to fall into the water beneath. It has been used as a footbridge since it was restored due to damage sustained during the 1950 to 1953 Korean War. The collapse came before dawn when no one was around. There were no injuries.

Environmental groups and media reports say the river has been dredged to increase its depth and speed of the water flow as part of the controversial Four Rivers Dam Project, exposing the pylons of the bridge to a greater depth, but they had not been reinforced to hold the extra weight and pressure.

Father Simeon Park Chang-kyun, from the Nakdong-gang branch of the Catholic Solidarity for Deterrence of Four Major Rivers Project, called the collapse a direct result of the government project.

“More and bigger disasters will occur, such as the collapse of river banks and bridges, as a result of the stronger currents in the deeply dredged rivers,” he predicted.

Nakdong-gang River is one of South Korea’s four major rivers. The Busan Regional Construction Management Administration said the river was flowing faster because of recent heavy rains. It pledged to rebuild the bridge.

Bishop John Chrisostom Kwon Hyeok-ju said at a special Mass celebrated for life and peace at the Moksong-dong Cathedral on September 6 last year, “Even though the project has started, it would be wise and courageous for the government to acknowledge its mistake and stop it.”

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