The collapse of the decades-old and previously quake-stricken Clarin Bridge in Loay, which was supposedly days away from being replaced by a newer bridge, was mainly caused by vehicle overloading, a provincial government official said.
According to Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) chief Anthony Damalerio, there were at least 12 vehicles on the bridge when the structure located at the boundary of Barangays Poblacion Ubos and Villalimpia in Loay collapsed at past 4 p.m. on Wednesday.
“The main cause was the overload. About 12 vehicles ang nasa ilalim pa ng dagat. That is confirmed,” said Damalerio.
The bridge was constructed in the 1970s and was among the infrastructures jolted by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit Bohol in 2013.
“Affected ‘to during the 2013 earthquake. There were some retrofitting interventions done by the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways. The new bridge is already under construction,” said Damalerio.
According to Gov. Art Yap, the new bridge which was supposed to replace the ill-fated infrastructure will be passable in a “few days.”
Meanwhile, search and retrieval operations at the Loboc River in Loay where the Clarin Bridge collapsed were suspended late Wednesday night due to strong current and rains that muddied waters in the area.
Yap said operations will resume on Thursday morning.
“We will be suspending operations tonight. The weather is not cooperating—the wind is strong, according to the divers, visibility is very strong [sic], visibility is just left to one to two feet, and they cannot even read the plate numbers of the cars. The water is too murky,” said Yap.
According to Damalerio, they have so far retrieved four dead bodies in the area and rescued 20 individuals who have been taken for emergency medical treatment and checkup as of Wednesday night.
One of the fatalities was identified as a male Austrian tourist, whose pregnant wife was also among the survivors of the incident.
They were newlyweds and were on their honeymoon.
Damalerio said the three other persons who died were Bohol locals.
Vehicles found underwater included a dumptruck, a pickup truck, a van, a tricycle and several sedans.
He clarified that there were no public utility vehicles that plunged into the river along with the fallen bridge.
Damalerio added that there were no longer bodies seen inside the 12 vehicles but he did not dismiss the possibility that there are those who may have been swept away by the current.
“Wala ng bodies na nakikita sa loob ng mga sasakyan. Siguro nilabas na due to strong current nandito pa sa ilalim pero di pa makita ng divers. Zero visibility na,” said Damalerio.
Construction of the bridge that was supposed to replace the old Clarin Bridge started in 2018.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the project’s implementing agency, was targeting to inaugurate the bridge in the first half of 2022, before President Duterte steps down from office in June.
The new infrastructure, poised to be the second Nielsen-type bridge in the country, was designed to be 104 meters long and 6.7 meters wide including the sidewalk.
Construction is overseen by a joint venture obetween VT Lao Construction and Indonesian firm Wijayakari Construction, which is mostly supplying materials for the project.
According to the DPWH, the project is part of the Bohol Circumferential Road Contract Package 3 under the agency’s Road Upgrading and Preservation Projects funded by a loan agreement between the governments of the Philippines and Japan through (JICA) Japan International Cooperation Agency.