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05 January - Bridge in Hobart collapses

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05 January - Bridge in Hobart collapses

Unread postby Max ADU » Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:41 pm

Australian History
Sunday, January 5, 1975.

    The Tasman Bridge in Hobart, Australia, is struck by bulk ore carrier Lake Illawarra, killing 12.

    • Tasman_Bridge_Hobart.jpg
    The Tasman Bridge in Tasmania crosses the Derwent River near the central business district in Hobart. Opened in 1964, the bridge has a total length of 1395m, which is longer than the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

    At 9:27pm on 5 January 1975, the bulk ore carrier Lake Illawarra travelling up the Derwent River struck the bridge, causing two pylons and 127 metres of concrete decking to fall from the bridge and sink the ship.

    Seven crew members on board the Lake Illawarra were killed, and five motorists died when four cars drove over the collapsed sections before the traffic was stopped.

    As the collision occurred on a Sunday evening, there was relatively little traffic on the bridge. While no cars were travelling between the 18th and 19th pylons when that section collapsed, four cars drove over the gap, killing five occupants.

    Two drivers managed to stop their vehicles at the edge, but not before their front wheels had dropped over the lip of the bridge deck.

    One of these cars contained Frank and Sylvia Manley, travelling with two young children in the back seat.

    Sylvia Manley:
    "As we approached, it was a foggy night...there was no lights on the bridge at the time. We just thought there was an accident. We slowed down to about 40 km/h and I'm peering out the window, desperately looking to see the car...what was happening on the bridge. We couldn't see anything but we kept on travelling. The next thing, I said to Frank, "The bridge is gone!" And he just applied the brakes and we just sat there swinging. As we sat there, we couldn’t see anything in the water. All we could see was a big whirlpool of water and apparently the boat was sinking. So with that, we undid the car door and I hopped out."

    Frank Manley:
    "[Sylvia] said “The white line, the white line’s gone. Stop!" I just hit the brakes and I said “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t stop.” And next thing we just hung off the gap...when I swung the door open, I could see, more or less, see the water...and I just swung meself towards the back of the car and grabbed the headrest like that to pull myself around. There's a big automatic transmission pan underneath [the car] - that's what it balanced on."

    The wreck of Lake Illawarra remains on the bottom of the river, with the concrete slab still on top of it.

    The city of Hobart was divided for nearly three years following the accident, which knocked out a 73 metre section of the bridge.

    The bridge was reconstructed and subsequently reopened on 8 October 1977.
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