SHARE
COPY LINK

GLANCE

Two dead after bridge collapses into river in south west France

Two people have died after a bridge leading to a small town in a popular tourist region of south west France collapsed on Monday.

Two dead after bridge collapses into river in south west France
AFP

A 15-year-old girl died after a suspension bridge over a river in southwest France collapsed on Monday, causing a car, a truck and a third vehicle to plunge into the water, local authorities said.

The body of the girl – who had been travelling in a car with her mother – was found straight away but the driver of the lorry was swept away by the fast-flowing river. His body was found later on Monday night.

Four people were rescued after the collapse of the bridge linking the towns of Mirepoix-sur-Tarn and Bessieres, 30 kilometres north of the city of Toulouse, the fire service and local security chief Etienne Guyot said.

The central part of the 155-metre bridge, measuring 6.5 metres wide, was submerged by the Tarn river.

The bridge leading to the town of Mirepoix-sur-Tarn in the south west France département of Haut-Garonne collapsed at about 8am on Monday.

 

The girl's mother was pulled alive from the sunken car by bystanders, some of whom were badly injured in the rescue attempt.

Two rescue workers were also seriously hurt, according to the region's security department.

Several people are also being treated in hospital after reportedly diving into the river to try to save the victims.

The 150m long suspension bridge had a weight limit, and initial reports suggested that a large lorry had driven onto it when it collapsed.

The head of the Haute-Garonne départment Georges Meric told AFP that three vehicles were caught in the bridge collapse, without saying what happened to the third.

Over 60 emergency workers were at the scene, he said, adding that an investigation would be carried out into the condition of the bridge.

Local authorities have urged people to stay away from the area and added that as a precaution the nearby Villemur suspension bridge has also been closed. 

Investigation launched

An investigation into the cause of the accident was underway.

The bridge, dated to 1931, had a load limit of 19 tonnes and was “regularly checked”, Guyot said.

The Haute-Garonne department council said the bridge had undergone a “thorough” inspection in 2017, which had shown “no structural problem”.

Mirepoix-sur-Tarn mayor Eric Oget described it as a “very important crossing point” for people going to work in the regionla capital Toulouse on the other side of the river. 

Many pedestrians used the bridge, he said, describing the collapse as a “real trauma” for the local population.

Oget said articulated lorries were not allowed onto the bridge but that some had nonetheless been seen crossing over in the past.

He said he had no information on whether the fallen truck exceeded the allowed weight.

Thousands of bridges in need of repair

In September last year the French government released a report that concluded that thousands of bridges around the country were in need of repair.

A report by the Ministry of Transport revealed that of the country's 164 largest bridges, 23 were in need of urgent construction work. 

On Monday local authorities said the suspension bridge at Mirepoix-sur-Tarn was not on the list of bridges in need of urgent repair and was not under close watch.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Snobs, beaches and drunks – 5 things this joke map teaches us about France

A popular joke 'map' of France has once again been widely shared on social media, sparking endless jokes at the expense of certain regions of France.

Snobs, beaches and drunks - 5 things this joke map teaches us about France
Image AFP/cartesfrance.fr
But while the map – created by cartesfrance.fr – is clearly intended to be comic, it teaches us some important points about France’s regional divides, local stereotypes and in-jokes.
 

 
 
 
Here are some of the key points.
 
1. Everyone hates Parisians
 
The map is purportedly France as seen through the eyes of Parisians, and contains a series of snobbish and rude generalisations about every part of France that is not maison (home) in the capital and its surroundings. The great majority of the country is labelled simply as paysans (peasants).
 
The general stereotype about Parisians is that they are snobs, rudely judging the rest of the country which they regard as backwards and full of ploucs (yokels) apart from small areas which make nice holiday destinations.
 
Like all sweeping generalisations, this is true of some people and very much not of others, but one of the few things that can unite people from all areas of France is how much they hate les parigots têtes de veaux (a colloquialism that very roughly translates as ‘asshole Parisians’)
 
 
2. Staycations rule
 
Even before Covid-related travel restrictions, holidaying within France was the norm for many French people.
 
As the map shows, Parisians regard the southern and western coastlines as simply plages (beaches) which they decamp to for at least a month in July or August. In the height of summer French cities tend to empty out (apart from tourists) as locals head to the seaside or the countryside.
 
 
In winter the Pyrenees and Alps are popular ski destinations.
 
3. Northerners like a drink
 
There is a very widespread stereotype, although not really backed up by evidence, that the people of Normandy, Brittany and the Nord area like a drink or two. Many suggest this is to cope with the weather, which does tend to be rainier than the rest of France (although has plenty of sunshine too).
 
 
Official health data doesn’t really back this up, as none of these areas show a significantly greater than average rate of daily drinkers, although Nord does hold the sad record for the highest rate of people dying from alcohol-related liver disease.
 
What’s certainly true is that Brittany and Normandy are cider country, with delicious locally-produced ciders on sale everywhere, well worth a try if you are visiting.
 
 
4. Poverty
 
The map labels the north eastern corner of France as simply pauvres – the poor.
 
The north east of the country was once France’s industrial and coal-mining heartland, and as traditional industries have declined there are indeed pockets of extreme poverty and high unemployment. The novel The End of Eddy, telling the story of novelist Edouard Louis’ childhood in a struggling small town near Amiens, lays out the social problems of such areas in stark detail.
 
However poverty is not just confined to one corner of France and the département that records the highest levels of deprivation is actually Seine-Saint-Denis in the Paris suburbs.
 
5. Southern prejudice
 
According to the map, those from the south are either branleurs (slackers) or menteurs (liars). 
 
This isn’t true, obviously, there are many lovely, hard-working and truthful people in southern France, but the persistent stereotype is that they are lazy – maybe because it’s too hot to do much work – and slightly shifty.
 
Even people who aren’t actually rude about southerners can be pretty patronising, as shown when south west native Jean Castex became the prime minister in summer 2020. 
 
Castex has a noticeable south west accent which sparked much comment from the Paris-based media and political classes, with comments ranging from the patronising – “I love his accent, I feel like I’m on holiday” – to the very patronising – “that accent is a bit rugby” (a reference to the fact that TV rugby commentators often come from France’s rugby heartlands in the south west).
 
 
In his first year as PM, Castex has undertaken a dizzying schedule of appointments around the four corners of France, so hopefully the lazy myth can now be put to bed.
 
And anyone tempted to take the piss out of his accent – glottophobie (accent prejudice) is now a crime in France.
 
For more maps that reflect France, head to cartesfrance.fr
SHOW COMMENTS