Venezuela Bridge Collapses on Highway From Caracas to East

A bridge on the main highway connecting Venezuela’s capital Caracas to the eastern part of the oil-producing country collapsed yesterday, restricting transit to cities including Puerto La Cruz.

Five vehicles, including a cargo truck were on the bridge when it fell into a river due to an excess of weight at the town of Cupira in Miranda state, 85 miles east of Caracas, the Transport Ministry said in a statement. The government is working to establish temporary bridges and alternative routes, Vice President Elias Jaua said.

“We have so-called war bridges to at least establish the transit of light vehicles in the next three days,” Jaua said in comments broadcast on state television, adding that a provisional bridge that can carry heavy loads will be established within 10 to 15 days. “We’re taking measures to guarantee provisions of food and gasoline to the people.”

Highway 9 connects Caracas with the oil refining complexes of Jose and Puerto La Cruz. Oil exports won’t be affected by the fallen bridge as crude is loaded onto tankers along the coast.

The maintenance of highways has turned into a political issue after President Hugo Chavez handed responsibility to the central government from governorships in 2009, some of which are in the hands of the opposition.

‘Weeks, Months’

“It’s going to take days, weeks, even months to re- establish the bridge,” Adriana D’Elia, who took over as governor of Miranda state when Henrique Capriles Radonski stood down to face Chavez in Oct. 7 presidential elections, said on Globovision. “It’s true that the responsibility for the bridge belongs to the ministry but seeing as we’re in Miranda state the logical thing would be to coordinate.”

An alternative route to reach the eastern part of the country via the central Guarico state is in bad condition and will add at least three hours to the journey, Victor Lira, director of the emergency response team in Miranda, said in an interview on Globovision.

To contact the reporter on this story: Charlie Devereux in Caracas at cdevereux3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Philip Sanders at psanders@bloomberg.net

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