Swedish workers’ lucky escape in bridge collapse

A number of Swedish workers were on Tuesday thankful to be alive after their company car was crushed by a 30-tonne block of concrete that fell off a bridge in northern Sweden.

Swedish workers' lucky escape in bridge collapse
A concrete slab fell off the bridge in Sundsvall. Photo: Jango17/Wikimedia Commons

Just before noon on Tuesday a huge block of concrete suddenly came loose from a newly-built bridge in the town of Sundsvall.

“It really is a big block, like 30 tonne,” fire and rescue officer Peter Höglund told the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet.

Built as Sweden's longest motorway bridge, the 2,109-metre long construction was officially inaugurated in spring this year. Officials were not yet able to say on Tuesday afternoon why the 25-metre tall concrete block collapsed.

Nobody was injured in the incident, but staff from Sundsvall Energi – the company which provides electricity to the local area – who had been working just metres away thanked their lucky stars on Tuesday.

“We were inside the bridge doing some cabling work when we heard a loud crash. We were terrified. Then we saw that the entire concrete block above the door had just plummeted. 'What the heck just happened?' I thought,” project manager Urban Bäck told Swedish public broadcaster SVT.

He and his colleague told of their shock when they found the company car completely crushed underneath the concrete block – which had fallen from the bridge just minutes before several of their co-workers had been about to head outside to go for lunch.

“I had people standing outside with a lorry just 15 minutes ago, so I thought 'I just hope none of them are there now',” Mats Lenberg told SVT.

“I'm happy I'm still here today. I'm probably going to go and buy a lottery ticket now,” said a relieved Bäck.

The concrete block acted only as a supporting pillar and the damaged piece of construction did not have a bearing function, said officials. Traffic flowed as normal on Tuesday afternoon, said a Swedish Transport Authority (Trafikverket) spokesman.

“We will make sure the bridge is stable. If there is any danger to traffic it will be shut immediately,” Johan Tjerneng told the Aftonbladet tabloid.

Meanwhile, police had sealed off the area in the afternoon and were investigating the incident.