Worst Bridge Collapses of All Time

The wreckage of the Wellington-Auckland express involved in the Tangiwai disaster.
The wreckage of the Wellington-Auckland express involved in the Tangiwai disaster.

Bridges are amazing architectural structures that allow people to traverse from one side to another. However, the engineering of a bridge can be difficult as it has to be able to withstand heavy pressure and strong wind strikes. It also has to be sturdy enough to allow numerous vehicles all the time and flexible enough to sufficiently bend with the wind. Throughout history, there have been many bridges collapsing, resulting in fatalities and loss of property. Some of the failures have been due to poor construction from the beginning and have been a disaster waiting to happen. Others have collapsed because of old age or poor quality of building material. Below are some of the worst bridge fatalities in history.

Worst Bridge Disasters In History

Angers Bridge

Angers Bridge, also known the Basse-Chaîne Bridge, was a suspension bridge constructed over the Maine River located in Angers, France. The bridge was designed by Joseph Charley and Bordilion and was constructed between 1836 and 1839. The bridge collapsed on April 16, 1850 when a troop of French soldiers were marching across. The collapsed bridge claimed the lives of 226 people. The bridge stretched over 335 feet with two wire cables that carried a deck 24 feet wide and towers that were made of cast iron columns 17.9 feet tall.

Veligonda Railway Bridge

The Veligonda Railway Bridge collapsed on October 29, 2005 near the town of Veligonda, India when a small rail bridge was swept away by flash floods. The nighttime train was full of passengers visiting their families for the holiday of Diwali. The rail line was swept away when a humongous irrigation tank ruptured resulting in floods down the railway lines. The train derailed on the broken section claiming the lives of 114 passengers and injuring more than 200. The area had been experiencing heavy rainfall before the accident thus some the roads were destroyed which profoundly hampered rescue attempts.

Point Ellice Bridge

The Point Ellice Bridge disaster occurred on May 26, 1896 in Victoria, British Columbia when a streetcar cramped with 143 holidaymakers crashed on Point Ellice and collapsed into the upper harbor. The 143 passengers were on their way to attend Queen Victoria's birthday celebrations when the accident happened claiming the lives of 55 men, women, and children.The accident was marked as one of the worst transit disasters to occur in British Columbia. However, only the left side passengers of the streetcar were able to escape death. The tramway operator was found at fault on June 12, 1896 due to irresponsibility since the tramcar was loaded with a heavier weight than the bridge could support. Victoria's City Council was also found at fault regarding negligence since the bridge was also not well maintained and safety limits were not properly observed. The bridge's design and construction were also discovered to be poor thus playing a role in the disaster.

Whangaehu River Rail Bridge

The Tangiwai disaster occurred on December 24, 1953 at exactly 22:21 hours when the Whangaehu River Bridge collapsed crashing an express passenger train at Tangiwai, New Zealand.The train was on its way to Auckland from Wellington when the disaster occurred. The train and the first of its six carriages crashed into the river claiming the lives of 151 passengers. The disaster was caused due to the collapsing of the Tephra Dam that was holding back Mount Ruapehu's Crater Lake which burst destroying the piers at Tangiwai Bridge just a moment before the train reached the bridge. The Tangiwai disaster is one of the worst rail accidents to ever occur in New Zealand.

Deadliest Bridge Disaster

The worst of all the bridges disasters in the world goes to the Ponte de Barcas Oporto in Portugal that collapsed in 1809 killing 4000 people. Some records put the figure at 6000. It was during the Napoleonic war and the people of Porto were attempting to cross river Douro on the Ponte das Barcas Bridge to escape the French troops. The bridge collapsed because of the weight and all the people on the bridge were drowned.

Worst Bridge Disasters in History

RankBridge NameLocationYearCasualties
1Ponte des BarcasOporto, Portugal18094000
2Etai BridgeTokyo, Japan18071500
3Angers BridgeAngers, France1850226
4Ulyanovsk Railway BridgeUlyanovsk, Russia1983177
5Whangaehu River Rail BridgeTangiwai, New Zealand1953151
6Maddur Railway BridgeMaddur, India1897150
7Makahali River BridgeBaitadi, Nepal1974140
8Harrow & Wealdstone Station FootbridgeWealdstone, England1952117
9Hyatt Regency walkway Kansas City, Missouri, United States1981114
10Veligonda Railway BridgeVeligonda, India2005114
11Dry Creek BridgeEden, Colorado, United States1904111
12Rafiganj Rail BridgeRafiganj, India2002103
13Eschede road bridgeEschede, Germany1998101
14Cimarron River Rail CrossingDover, Oklahoma, United States1906100
15Ashtabula River Railroad BridgeAshtabula, Ohio, United States187692
16St. Johns Station Rail BridgeLewisham, London, England195790
17Granville Railway BridgeSydney, New South Wales, Australia197783
18Yarmouth BridgeYarmouth, England184579
19Tay Rail BridgeDundee, Scotland187975
20Quebec BridgeQuebec City, Quebec, Canada190775
21Munchenstein Rail BridgeMunchenstein, Switzerland189171
22Unnamed bridgeGuinea200765
23Point Ellice BridgeVictoria, British Columbia, Canada189660
24Desjardins Canal BridgeDundas, Ontario, Canada185759
25Saalebrucke bei Monchen-NienburgNienburg, Germany182555
26Can Tho BridgeCan Tho, Vietnam200755

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