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Overpass collapse shuts down Quebec highway

Last Updated Fri, 10 Nov 2000 23:58:36 EST

LAVAL, QUE. - Thousands of Montreal commuters are being rerouted away from a major highway where an overpass under construction collapsed on a car killing one man and injuring two others Sunday.

A huge concrete beam fell on the vehicle as it was passing under the viaduct shortly before 11 a.m. ET Sunday. Three men were trapped inside.

  Surveying the damage Surveying the damage

Two of them survived and were taken to a hospital in Montreal. They were sitting in the front of the car. A 50-year-old man has broken legs and a 47-year-old man escaped serious injury.

It took about five hours for firefighters to reach the third man, who was in the back seat when the rubble came crashing down.

Police said the passenger, believed to be in his '40s, probably died as soon as the concrete hit the car.

Highway 15, which is the main route between Montreal and the Laurentians in the north, remains closed in both directions. It's not expected to reopen for several days.

An emergency team used a crane in a recovery operation that officials described as dangerous because of the structure's instability.

Investigators are not sure what caused the collapse. Transport Quebec said work on the overpass had been underway for the past six months.

   Removing the concrete Removing the concrete

CBC reporter Valerie Lesage, who was travelling on Highway 15 when a section of the overpass caved in, said she was almost hit.

"Plywood sheets fell first," she said. "Two seconds later, the concrete slabs started falling like dominoes."

Police brought tracking dogs and infrared equipment in the search for victims, but said they didn't think anyone else was buried beneath the rubble.

"I have never seen something so tragic," said Laval Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt who went to the bridge after hearing about the accident.

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