KAMPAR, 27 Oct 2009: A pupil drowned and two others are missing after a newly-built suspension bridge collapsed into the Kampar River as pupils, participating in a 1Malaysia camp, were walking across the bridge near here last night.
Nineteen other pupils, feared missing at first, have been accounted for and are safe, police said.
The accident happened after 298 pupils from 60 primary schools in Kampar, Tronoh and Batu Gajah arrived to participate in a 1Malaysia camp organised by the Kinta Selatan District Education Department.
Perak Deputy Chief Police Officer Datuk Zakaria Yusof said the body of the drowned pupil, identified as Dina Deve a/p Nathan, was recovered at 8.30am and has been sent to the Kampar Hospital.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also Education Minister, arrived at the scene of the accident at 10.55am.
Barisan Nasional-installed Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir visited the scene last night and ordered an immediate investigation into the accident’s cause.
“The suspension bridge was newly built. We want to know if it was built to specifications as it collapsed after a metal pillar got ripped off the ground,” he said.
A metal pillar and its concrete block foundation got ripped off the ground in the incident, and part of the bridge walkway was afloat on the river.
The Kampar River is known for extreme water sports. The part of the river where the bridge collapsed is about 30 metres wide and 1.5 metres deep.
Villagers have joined in the search and rescue operation mounted by 222 personnel from the police, Royal Malaysian Navy, Fire and Rescue Department, People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela), Civil Defence Department and other agencies.
Zakaria said the police have asked the Education Department to furnish a list of the camp participants’ names.
Parents of the pupils rushed to Sekolah Kebangsaan Kuala Dipang last night upon hearing news of the accident, and several of them became angry when they could not confirm their children’s safety even as late as 3am.
The bridge collapsed when groups of pupils walked from the campsite to the school for their dinner or walked back after they had eaten. — Bernama